Battle of Trafalgar
About the work
Interpretation about this artwork is under review
The Government Art Collection recognises its responsibility to artists, colleagues and all our audiences to represent the diversity of the UK and to embed anti-racist and equitable practices throughout our work. We are taking action to address inequality in the Collection and its interpretation.
'Battle of Trafalgar' by Robert Strickland Thomas (1787-1853) shows the naval battle of 21 October 1805, when Admiral Nelson led the defeat of a combined French and Spanish fleet, just west of Cape Trafalgar, a headland in south-west Spain. This work shows the British fleet lined in formation, preparing to attack enemy lines at right angles. It was a tactic devised by Nelson and was an important element in the British success.
About the artist
Robert Strickland Thomas entered the Royal Navy as a seaman aboard the ‘Princess Charlotte’ frigate in 1805. He was promoted to Midshipman and may have been taught to paint by the captain of the ship, George Tobin, an amateur painter who later retired to Teignmouth, South Devon, to paint with Thomas Luny. Robert Strickland Thomas took up painting to supplement his income at times when he was on half pay. He became Master’s Mate in the sloop ‘Brisk’ (1807-13), before joining the frigate ‘Creole’ to become Acting Lieutenant. He was confirmed as Lieutenant in 1815, but left the navy after contracting a disease, which left him deaf. Concentrating mainly on Royal Naval subjects, his work is reminiscent of that of Nicholas Condy.
- Battle of Trafalgar
- Oil on canvas
- height: 99.00 cm, width: 170.00 cm
- Purchased from the Parker Gallery, March 1957
- Sold through Sotheby's, London, in c.1956-57 (Lot 133); with the Parker Gallery, London; from whom purchased by the Ministry of Works in March 1957
- GAC number