Horatio Nelson

1 portrait on display in Room 17 at the National Portrait Gallery

Horatio Nelson, by Sir William Beechey, 1800 - NPG 5798 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Horatio Nelson

by Sir William Beechey
oil on canvas, 1800
24 1/2 in. x 19 in. (623 mm x 483 mm)
Purchased with help from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, 1985
Primary Collection
NPG 5798


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  • Sir William Beechey (1753-1839), Portrait painter. Artist associated with 250 portraits, Sitter in 7 portraits.

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When Nelson returned home from Europe in 1800, he was not only the 'Hero of the Nile', but the subject of intense gossip because of his affair with Emma Hamilton. The portrait copies produced by Lemuel Francis Abbott after his painting of 1797 had satisfied public demand up to a point, but on Nelson's return to London a spate of artists set to work to further immortalise him. In recognition of his Norfolk origins, this portrait was commissioned by the City of Norwich. It depicts Nelson with an air of quiet self-confidence and is considered the most faithful likeness of him. Nelson's last engagement was his greatest victory. Beechey's sketch captures the proud resolve of the Admiral who, refusing to cover his glittering medals, was killed by a sniper while destroying the combined French and Spanish fleets at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.

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