DEREK G.M. GARDNER | H.M.S. Daedalus
10" x 14" / 25cms x 36cms
Gardner's work is emblematic of one of the many engagements fought by H.M.S. Daedalus. The image depicts the action again the comparably sized French Frigate Prudente. Gardner describes the battle, which took place on February 9th, 1799, as follows: 'The action between the 12 pounder, 32- gun frigate Daedalus and the French frigate Prudente took place in the Indian Ocean about 150 miles to the South East of where the city of Durban now stands. The Daedalus, under Captain Henry Langbird Ball, brought the Prudente to close action after a five- hour chase. The two ships then commenced an animated exchange of broadsides, the distance between them gradually lessening as the manoeuvred. But after an hour and a half the fire of the British ship became too much for the Frenchman, who hauled down his colours at 1:21. The damage to theDaedalus was confined almost entirely to her masts and rigging but the Prudente was not only cut up in mast, rigging and sails, but at the end of the action her hull was considerably shattered, so much so in fact that when she was finally brought into Table Bay as a prize the commanding officer of the Cape decided she was not worth repairing'.
That this engagement took place off the Cape of Good Hope is indicative of the global proliferation of naval conflict in this period. To take Daedalus herself as an example, she served in Nova Scotia, the Chanel, Ireland, the Shetlands, Jamaica, West Africa, and South Africa in less than 20 years, largely operating along lucrative shipping lanes. It must have been astonishing for longstanding crewmembers to travel in this manner in a period where few people left the county in which they were born. During this period, she captured more than 10 enemy vessels, and was such a successful raider that she was given a letter of marque, establishing her role as a privateer within the Royal Navy.
- Gardner is widely considered to be the leading British maritime painter of the 20th century. Entirely self-taught, he became a master of his art with an unmatched skill for conveying the colour, luminosity and atmosphere of the maritime setting. During World War II, he served with the Royal Navy on armed trawlers and destroyers in the North Atlantic and in the Mediterranean Sea. In 1988 the Royal Society of Marine Artists elected Gardner as their honorary vice-president for life. In 2005, as part of celebration of the bicentenary of the Battle of Trafalgar an exhibition of his work featuring a painting of every ship in which Nelson served, was presented in London. His work is included in several marine art texts and held in public collections including the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich.
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