Belle Poule, Étoile, Further Reading

Belle Poule, Étoile, schooners, a glimpse of their extraordinary story.

Belle Poule et Étoile

Belle Poule et Étoile

Marine Painting:

A watercolour measuring 33 x 21,5 cms, (8,5” x 13”).

Back in 1995 after seeing this fine pair of schooners I felt moved to paint them but how?

This was my solution.

Belle Poule, Étoile, were built 1932, are owned by the Marine Nationale Ecole Navale, operated as training vessels, they have an unusual history

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Belle Poule et Etoile, detail 1

Belle Poule et Etoile, detail 1

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I’m not sure if they were at Dunkirk, certainly they did rescue many soldiers from France, under fire, in 1940.

These schooner’s design is based on fast fishing schooners. 

Belle Poule, Étoile, detail 2

Belle Poule, Étoile, detail 2

Étoile” translates as “star”,Belle Poule’ has a charming connection with Toulouse in SW France.

Belle Poule” is said to derive from an incident in 1533.

King Francis the first who had long coveted the vast and rich lands of the Count of Toulouse was presented with the keys of Toulouse by Mademoiselle Paule de Viguier, the baroness Fronteville.

Paule was a young girl known for her beauty, and Francis nicknamed her la belle Paule. a pun, a play on words.

The word belle is “beautiful”, while poule is a reference to her name, Paule, it also means “chick”, which in French, as it was later in English and American, can refer to a young girl.

The name became altered in pronunciation over time to belle poule through the difference between French and Occitan, the old language of the Toulousian region. 

Belle Poule, Étoile, detail 3

Belle Poule, Étoile, detail 3

The name was later adopted by a Gironde corsair (privateer, legalised pirate) for his vessel, giving rise to it as a ship name in the French navy.

During World War II, both vessels relocated to Portsmouth, England, from where they helped at the cost of the lives of some of their crew, to evacuate allied troops from France after ‘Dunkirk’ and generally served the Free France Forces.

They are permitted to fly the French ensign with an imposed Cross of Lorraine in recognition of their service during the war.

Four ships of the French Navy have borne the name “Belle Poule”.

The ships are:

The first and most famous was the 36-gun “Belle Poule” of 1765, famous for her duel against with English frigate “HMS Arethusa” fought on the 17 June 1778, which started the French intervention in the American War of Independence.

She was eventually captured by the British 64-gun ship of the line “HMS Nonsuch” in 1780 .

She was broken up in 1801.

Second was a 40-gun frigate, built 1802–1806, employed successfully as a commerce raider in the Indian Ocean until the British captured her in 1806.

The thirdBelle Poule” was a 60-gun (heavy) frigate  built 1828, famed for returning the remains of Napoléon Bonaparte from Saint Helena to France in 1840.

At the time she was under command of François d’Orléans, Prince of Joinville, was painted all black for the mission.

This modern schooner, ‘goélette’ in French, is a training ship for the Naval Academy

Belle Poule, Étoile, detail 4

Belle Poule, Étoile, detail 4

Belle Poule” andÉtoile have a wooden hulls, built 1932 by Chantier Naval de Normandie in the fishing port of Fecamp, France.

Both schooners are owned by the Marine Nationale Ecole Navale, the vessels have cruised extensively including the United States.

As far as I am aware, they are now sponsored by the town of Pauillac a small port in the Medoc wine region of Bordeaux.

To acquire or commission a similar painting, simple, secure, place a deposit or payment on our Payment page for your Gordon Frickers original painting (or in some cases a Heritage quality print) or feel free to

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Email: artistfrickers at gmail.com

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Gordon Frickers 27,08,2017 © updated

Gordon Frickers, the only artist member of British Marine

Gordon Frickers, the only artist member of British Marine  

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