Captain William Elliott Landscape Painting - A Pair of Marine Paintings - Views of The Battle of the Saints
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Captain William Elliott
A Pair of Marine Paintings - Views of The Battle of the Saints

About

The Battle of the Saints, 9th - 12th April 1782. Rodney in the “Formidable” close to Windward of the “Ville de Paris”; breaking the French line: a pair of paintings A pair of oil paintings on canvas each 24 x 36 inches (61 x 94 cm.) in their original carved and gilded Georgian frames Each painting signed Provenance: with the Parker Gallery, Mayfair, where acquired by a US collector Exhibited (perhaps) Royal Academy, London, I787, number 394 as Representation of the breaking of the French line in the memorable action of the 1 2th of April, 1782, between His Majesty's fleet commanded by Lord Rodney, and the French fleet, under the command of Compte De Grasse. The Battle of the Saintes or Saints  (known to the French as the Bataille de la Dominique), or Battle of Dominica was an important naval battle that took place over four days, 9 April 1782 – 12 April 1782, during the American Revolutionary War, and was a victory of a British fleet under Admiral Sir George Rodney over a French fleet under the Comte de Grasse, forcing the French and Spanish to abandon a planned invasion of Jamaica. The battle is named after the Saintes (or Saints), a group of islands which are to be found between Guadeloupe and Dominica in the West Indies. The French fleet defeated here by the Royal Navy was the fleet that had blockaded the British Army during the Siege of Yorktown. The French suffered heavy casualties and many were taken prisoner, including the Comte de Grasse. Four French ships of the line were captured (including the flagship) and one was destroyed. Rodney was credited with pioneering the tactic of "breaking the line" in the battle, though this is disputed. Origins In October 1781, a plan had been worked out between Admiral Comte de Grasse, commander of the French fleet in the West Indies, and Francisco Saavedra de Sangronis, General Bureau for the Spanish Indies, court representative and aide to the Spanish Governor of Louisiana, Bernardo de Gálvez. The strategic objectives of the Franco-Spanish military forces in the West Indies in this plan were to aid the Americans and defeat the British naval squadron at New York to capture the British Windward Islands and to conquer Jamaica. This plan became known as the "De Grasse – Saavedra Convention", and the first objective was essentially met with the surrender of the British army under General Cornwallis at the Siege of Yorktown in September 1781. De Grasse and his fleet played a decisive part in that victory, after which they sailed to the Caribbean. On arrival in Saint Domingue in November 1781, he was notified that the plan was given the go ahead to proceed with the conquest of Jamaica. Jamaica was the largest and most profitable British island in the Caribbean, mainly because of sugar; it was more valuable to the British economy than the thirteen American colonies. In a letter from King George III to Lord Sandwich, he declared that he would risk protecting Britain's important Caribbean islands at the risk of Britain herself, and this was the strategy implemented in 1779.Sugar made up 20% of all British imports and was worth five times as much as tobacco. As well as the gradual expulsion of the British from the West Indies by the French and Spanish, the conquest was to inflict a massive blow on the British economy. The invasion itself though was perceived in the courts at Paris and Madrid as an alternative to the Spanish and French attempts to take Gibraltar, which for two years had been a costly disaster. While de Grasse waited for reinforcements to undertake the Jamaica campaign, he captured St. Kitts in February 1782. The rest of the Windward Islands - Antigua, St Lucia, and Barbados - still remained under British control, while Admiral George Rodney arrived in the Caribbean theatre the following month, bringing reinforcements. These included seventeen ships of the line and gave the British a slight numerical advantage. On 7 April 1782, de Grasse set out from Martinique with 35 ships of the line, including two 50-gun ships and a large convoy of more than 100 cargo ships, to meet with a Spanish fleet of 12 ships of the line. In addition, de Grasse was to rendezvous with 15,000 troops at Saint Domingue earmarked for the conquest by landing on Jamaica's north coast. Rodney, on learning of this, sailed from St Lucia in pursuit with 36 ships of the line the following day. The British hulls by this time had been given copper sheathing to protect them from marine growth and fouling as well as salt water corrosion. This dramatically improved speed and sailing performance as a whole in good wind.

Details

  • Artist
    Captain William Elliott (1764 - 1838, British)
  • Medium
  • Dimensions
    H 24 in. x W 36 in.H 60.96 cm x W 91.44 cm
  • Gallery Location
    London, GB
  • Reference Number
    LU44633380023
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