Colour aquatintpublished 1 August 1805
About the work
This aquatint illustrates two Royal Navy ships, which were captured from the French, at Constantinople.
'La Bonne Citoyen', commanded by Sir William Sydney Smith, was carrying the Turkish Ambassador back to the city. The vessels and several Constantinople landmarks are identified by a key at the top of the print. At this time Napoleon had brought an army of 13,000 north out of Egypt into Ottoman Syria, capturing Gaza and Jaffa before moving onto Acre. Smith sailed from Constantinople and helped reinforce Acre's defences, then captured the French artillery being carried by sea for the siege. Thus weakened, Napoleon made two assaults on Acre before withdrawing back to Egypt. His ambitions in the Levant thwarted, Napoleon said of Smith: 'That man made me miss my destiny'.
About the artist
John Thomas Serres was born in London, son of marine painter Dominic Serres the elder. On his father's death he succeeded him as Marine Painter to George III. In 1800, he was appointed Marine Draughtsman to the Admiralty and employed to draw the coasts of Britain, France, Spain and the Mediterranean. He also taught at Chelsea Naval School, painted battle scenes and published ‘Liber Nauticus’ (1805), with plates after his and his father’s drawings. In 1817, he became a proprietor of the Coburg Theatre and subsequently the scenic director. He married a pupil, Olivia Wilmot, who claimed to be the daughter of the Duke of Cumberland. Her behaviour ruined Serres, who lost favour in court. He died soon after his release from a debtor's prison.