by Lemuel Francis Abbott
oil on canvas, 1797
29 1/2 in. x 24 1/2 in. (749 mm x 622 mm)
Click on the links below to find out more:
Sitterback to top
- Horatio Nelson, Viscount Nelson (1758-1805), Vice-Admiral and victor of Trafalgar. Sitter in 85 portraits.
Artistback to top
- Lemuel Francis Abbott (circa 1760-1802), Portrait painter. Artist associated with 77 portraits, Sitter in 1 portrait.
This portraitback to top
This is one of the many portraits Abbott painted of Nelson and it is perhaps the most widely recognised of the whole Nelson iconography. It depicts him in rear-admiral's uniform wearing the Star and Ribbon of the Bath and the Naval Gold Medal, awarded for his victory at the Battle of St Vincent (1797). The original portrait was painted for Captain Locker of the Greenwich Hospital. This version, commissioned for Lady Nelson, was also taken from life. Although Nelson only sat to him twice, Abbott subsequently copied the picture over forty times. The copies gradually declined in quality as the artist became mentally ill but this was no bar to their popularity. Many were purchased by Nelson's naval colleagues, his family and friends.
In July 1798, Nelson's wife wrote to him: 'My dearest Husband - I am now writing opposite to your portrait, the likeness is great. I am well-satisfied with Abbott… it is my companion, my sincere friend in your absence…'.
Related worksback to top
Linked publicationsback to top
- Cooper, John, Great Britons: The Great Debate, 2002, p. 91
- Gibson, Robin, Treasures from the National Portrait Gallery, 1996, p. 77
- Holmes, Richard, The Romantic Poets and Their Circle, 2013, p. 19
- Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 455
- Walker, Richard, Regency Portraits, 1985, p. 358
Subjects & Themesback to top
Events of 1797back to top
Current affairsThe Anti-Jacobin periodical makes its debut followed by The Anti-Jacobin Review the year after. Edited by William Gifford, it acted as a Tory mouthpiece against the 'New Morality' associated with republicanism.Bank crisis results in the temporary suspension of payments by the Bank of England leading to a nationwide currency shortage.
Art and scienceRobert Southey, later Poet Laureate, publishes his collected Poems, exploring contemporary interest in mythology and non-European cultures.Ann Radcliffe publishes her popular gothic novel The Italian. One of the most imaginative novelists of the period, she helped introduce readers to the romantic sense of the supernatural.
InternationalBattle of Cape St Vincent. Admiral John Jervis leads the fleet which defeat the Spanish.Failure of a small French invasion in Pembrokeshire. Naval mutinies at Spithead and Nore.Attack on the Canary Islands in which Rear-Admiral Nelson loses an arm.
See this portrait
On display in Room 17 at the National Portrait Gallery
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