Horatio Nelson (1758–1805), Viscount Nelson, Vice-Admiral and Victor of Trafalgar
About the work
Horatio Nelson is portrayed in his elaborate uniform of admiral in this half-length portrait. Suspended around his neck is the gold St. Vincent medal, awarded to Nelson for his part in the Battle of Cape St Vincent in Portugal, which took place on 14 February 1797. Pinned to his jacket is the Star of the Knight of the Bath. The sparkling turban decoration pinned to his hat, çelenk in Turkish, was the highest military decoration, given to him by Sultan Selim III in gratitude for his victory over the French at the 1798 Battle of the Nile, its 13 petals representing the 13 French ships destroyed or captured in the battle.
This painting is one of the many version made by Abbott: some 40 replica paintings of were made in total, as the result of two sittings Nelson gave the artist, while he was staying at the Royal Hospital for Seamen in Greenwich, recovering from the loss of his right arm at the Battle of Santa Cruz de Tenerife.
About the artist
Portrait painter Lemuel Francis Abbott was the son of a clergyman and was born in Leicestershire. He studied briefly with the artist Francis Hayman but was largely self-taught. By 1784 he had settled in London, where he became well-known for portraits of naval officers, his most famous sitter being Nelson (examples of his portraits of Nelson are in the National Maritime Museum, National Portrait Gallery and Scottish National Portrait Gallery). In 1798 Abbott was certified insane, according to one account the result of an ‘ill-assorted marriage’. He never recovered, although portraits by him were exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1798 and 1800. Abbott died in Clerkenwell, London, in 1802. He is thought to have left a son.
- Horatio Nelson (1758–1805), Viscount Nelson, Vice-Admiral and Victor of Trafalgar
- Oil on canvas
- Transferred from the Ministry of Defence, April 2017
- GAC number