The $45,000 painting of Admiral Nelson's most glorious victory

An incredible oil on canvas depiction of Admiral Nelson's most glorious victory is among the highlights at Dreweatts' Old Masters and 19th Century Pictures, tomorrow (July 14).

Painted by John Thomas Serres (1759-1825, London) the work depicts the blowing-up of French Commander Admiral Brueys' ship, L'Orient, at the Battle of the Nile.

The Battle of the Nile was fought in Aboukir Bay, about 15 miles west of Alexandria on August 1, 1798.

Until then, Nelson had spent most of the summer cruising the Eastern Mediterranean in search of Admiral Brueys' Toulon fleet.


John Thomas Serres's striking image of the Battle of the Nile

Finally, he came upon the fleet as it lay at anchor in Aboukir Bay; shortly after the disembarkation of the army with which Napoleon was to conquer Egypt.

Bueys had chosen a strong and well-protected anchorage for his fleet. But Nelson had the advantage of surprise... and also timing.

What's more, Bueys had wrongly assumed that at six o'clock in the evening, and with only two hours of daylight left, any attack would be postponed until the next day.


Napoleon daringly led his ships into
a night-time battle against the French

Here, Nelson's typical daring came into play. To the amazement of both of his own captains and the French enemy, he ordered his ships into the Bay.

The resulting battle lasted most of the way through the night, until the deciding moment: the French flagship, the huge 120-gun L'Orient, was blown-up in a huge explosion.

When dawn finally arrived, the annihilation of the French feet was clear to see. Nine of their badly-damaged ships were captured, and another four destroyed.

Today, the battle is remembered as one of the greatest victories in British Naval History, and brought Nelson to the pinnacle of his career.

It is this moment that is magnificently captured in Serres' painting. Measuring , 90 x 135 cm (35.5 x 49 inches), the work will auction at Dreweatt's with a pre-sale estimate of £20,000-30,000 ($30,030-45,045).

The sale will be held in Berkshire, UK, with internet bidding also available.

In other Nelson news, Paul Fraser Collectibles recently had the great privilege of selling a piece of the flag flown aboard the HMS Victory, Nelson's ship at the historic Battle of Waterloo.

The same flag was carried by HMS Victory's sailors at Lord Nelson's funeral, held at St Paul's Cathedral in London on January 9 1806. After the ceremony, Captain John Clyne cut a strip from one corner and gave each of the twelve sailors a small piece.

You can read more about this incredible piece of memorabilia in our special report, here.

 

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