Horatio Nelson ('Extirpation of the plagues of Egypt ...

1 portrait of Horatio Nelson

Horatio Nelson ('Extirpation of the plagues of Egypt ..., by James Gillray, published by  Hannah Humphrey, published 6 October 1798 - NPG D12660 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Horatio Nelson ('Extirpation of the plagues of Egypt ...

by James Gillray, published by Hannah Humphrey
hand-coloured etching and engraving, published 6 October 1798
10 1/4 in. x 14 1/4 in. (259 mm x 362 mm) plate size; 10 5/8 in. x 15 in. (271 mm x 382 mm) paper size
Purchased, 1947
Reference Collection
NPG D12660

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Sitterback to top

Artistsback to top

  • James Gillray (1756-1815), Caricaturist. Artist associated with 881 portraits, Sitter in 7 portraits.
  • Hannah Humphrey (active 1778-1822), Publisher and printseller. Artist associated with 718 portraits, Sitter in 1 portrait.

This portraitback to top

News of Nelson's resounding victory at the Battle of the Nile reached London on 2 October 1798. Four days later Gillray published this detailed print outlining the main events. Nelson in Herculean pose, armed with a club of 'British Oak', dispatches a group of writhing tricolour crocodiles that stand in for French warships. Those tethered with cords symbolise the nine ships captured by the British. In the background the largest crocodile emits a stream of fire from its mouth in reference to the French flag-ship l'Orient which blew up. Only two ships escaped, here seen heading for the shore where the monuments and pyramids of Egypt are clearly visible. It was popular icons such as this that helped to foster the adulatory cult of hero-worship that surrounded Nelson after the successes of the Egyptian campaign.