RONNY MOORTGAT | USS Constellation vs L'Insurente
30 cms x 50 cms / 12" x 19¾"
The Constellation, named for the constellation of fifteen stars in the early United States flag, was one of the first six ships of the emerging US navy created following the 1764 Naval Act. The 38-gun frigate was actually conceived as one of the ‘capital ships’ of the new fleet in a period where the leading vessels of the European powers were routinely first-rate ships-of-the-line with an armament in excess of one hundred guns. This ship was thus of far greater importance to the new republic than its size would suggest.
Although most famous for being captured during this engagement, L’Insurgente had already captured four British and American merchant ships before her defeat to Constellation. She was one of hundreds of vessels involved in the complex web of privateering and economic warfare in the early French Revolutionary wars.
This battle took place during the ‘Quasi- War’, a maritime conflict between the US and Revolutionary France over American failures to pay off its debt. Acting as Commodore Thomas Truxtun’s flagship in the Caribbean, the USS Constellation engaged L’Insurgente after a chase through a storm. For over an hour Constellation tried to bring its superior firepower to bear, while the lighter L’Insurgente attempted to close and board with her larger crew, eventually, the US frigate prevailed. As the first ever US naval victory and capture of an enemy vessel the battle was fêted in the States, and Truxton was heavily decorated. It could be said that Moortgat’s scene memorialises the beginning of the US Navy’s inexorable rise.
- Ronny Moortgat is one of the foremost contemporary artists of marine painting. Following in the footsteps of the great maritime masters of the twentieth-century, he depicts his subjects with great discipline, capturing every minute detail of the vessels.Moorgats skill in portraying contemporary and historic ships with such accuracy, whilst also imbuing their unique spirit in his paintings, is due to his lifelong passion for the sea and all that sail on her. This passion was born from growing up by the River Schelde close to Antwerp, Europes second largest port, and watching the hustle and bustle of the shipping from a very young age.Classically trained in the studio of Willem Dolphyn in Antwerp, Moortgat has gone on to join the Belgian Society of Maritime Artists and the Royal Society of Marine Artists.
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