Trafalgar Project Background

The marine paintings that have come to be known as “The Trafalgar Collection” started life when I was invited to become ‘Official Artist’ for HMS Victory’s  2005 Trafalgar bi centennial anniversary renovation.

HMS Victory

Dockyard 400 , one of The Nelson & Trafalgar Collection, available.

The project was aimed at raising awareness of HMS Victory, what she represents as the only surviving First Rate Ship of the Line of Battle and to raise funds to help facilitate HMS Victory’s renovation, inside and out, a project headed, supervised and researched by the now legendary Mr. Peter Goodwin,  HMS Victory’s ‘Keeper and Curator’. 

In that we were successful.

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I was particularly gratified to have Seahawk Mess at RNAS Culdrose chose a large copy of my painting, “I Have Urgent Dispatches“,

HMS Pickle

Hyperlink > Nelson & Trafalgar Collection, “H.M.S. “Pickle”, carrying the news of the Battle of Trafalgar
Available, also as as numbered limited edition prints from £147.00.

printed on cotton canvas, numbered, signed and framed to be presented at their Trafalgar Dinner 2006.

The gift went to Her Royal Highness Princess Anne, The Princess Royal, for her considerable involvement and support of the commemoration voyage following the track of the original Trafalgar Messenger

The Trafalgar Messenger , one of The Nelson & Trafalgar Collection, available.

HMS Pickle, of a reproduction HMS Pickle, Cape Trafalgar to Falmouth, Cornwall (now based at Hull and operated by Mr. Malcolm Nicholson) with duplicate ‘Trafalgar Dispatches’.

I heard later the dinner was a great success completed with singing Admirals and the Princess was “thrilled, over the Moon” with her gift.

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My brief was to paint some of the interesting but less well know aspects of the stories of Nelson, HMS Victory and the British Georgian Navy.

I was given a letter of introduction by her then Captain, Mike Cheshire.

My task and the letter opened doors, draws and archives in Britain, France and Spain, not normally accessible and revealed a more interesting more balanced picture of those times than is generally portrayed.

I was able to help the work of Peter Goodwin in some surprising ways.

He and I remain colleagues and firm friends to this day and I hope, well ship’s beyond.

With the hindsight given us today one can now see that period was a once in a life time event.

Many archives and museums opened for me, including sources no scholar had investigated, I particularly think of those I visited in Paris, Brest, Madrid, San Sebastian Naval Base and Cadiz. 

Cape Trafalgar with French colleagues from Brest, Michele Huve, Nichole Poullaouec

Aside from the body of completed works, those days have left me with many stories and much as yet unused information; ready for more adventures!


Paintings in the Trafalgar Project have been moved to the War Ships section.
This page has been retained in the Archive.


A more intimate and daring view than is normal

For an explanation of the Trafalgar 1995 to 2005 Project read the text below and see these images.

NEW – None of these extraordinary Trafalgar paintings on this site have ever been exhibited before seen on TV or used for any commercial purpose.

They are memorable and historical documents, significant Trafalgar paintings.

This web site is becoming a resource in its own right.

There is also some fun and mischief to be seen for examples, his friend the famous yachtsman Sir Robin Knox-Johnston was the model for the boson seen in the eyes of the schooner HMS Pickle and the traditional version of Nelson’s tactics is wrong.

The 2 most obviously significant paintings here are:

Commenting on H.M. Schooner “Pickle”, carrying the news of the Battle of Trafalgar & the remarkable methods of the artist, the historian & keeper of “HMS Victory” Peter Goodwin who is an author & acknowledged as the leading authority on HMS Victory, said, “It’s the one thing that opened me up to the world of painting.” He also said, “It makes me feel I could punch the canvas.

This Project was exclusive for HMS Victory, the roots going as far back as 1995 when Gordon Frickers had the privilege of unlimited access to Nelson’s famous flagship.

The paintings were intended to be part of a project to raise money to support the preservation of HMS Victory and the RN Museum Portsmouth.
Unfortunately it fell foul of petty politics and bureaucracy.

The paintings were never exhibited, some remain unfinished (“Death of Nelson, a French marksman’s view” and “The Carronade “) the project fell apart and the paintings were lost from view.

The brief was to look at the less known and unusual but interesting aspects of the Nelson and Trafalgar story.

From the outset Gordon Frickers appreciated most of the new Trafalgar pictures would be quite predictable, the big ships going into and in action etc.

Gordon Frickers approach has deliberately given a more intimate and daring view than is normal; were possible to place you the observer in close (“H.M. Schooner “Pickle”, carrying the news of the Battle of Trafalgar “) to or even among the crew (“Trafalgar Dawn” ), this by working directly from first hand accounts, visiting locations, researching extensively and to use his experience as a qualified photographer, under sail, as a master shipwright, an historian and of course as a painter.

The margin of the print “Trafalgar Dawn” includes a sketch of the combined fleet, named in the (probable) order of sailing at 06.05hrs based on the reports of the officers present.

HMS Pickle shows a self-portrait of the artist working among the crew and his friend the famous yachtsman Sir Robin Knox-Johnston was the model for the boson seen in the eyes of the schooner.

When Gordon Frickers began to work on his series of paintings about Nelson & Trafalgar (“Nelson’s Column “) in 1995 he realised as he read more deeply, that the direct evidence of the enemy, much ignored & dismissed by British sources, was important.
The traditional British perspective of the French and Spanish of that time is seriously flawed.
This unfashionable view he discovered was surprisingly shared by the Admiralty appointed Committee of 1913.

Gordon Frickers concluded, the traditional version of Nelson and Trafalgar as shown including on recent TV programmes is wrong, and there is a general misunderstanding of Nelson’s tactics as proven by a careful reading of Victory coming under fire and an understanding of how square rigged ships handle (see “First Shots, Trafalgar “).

To France and Spain in 1996 for a Research and Painting Odyssey

If you have the patience to read the additional information on our Trafalgar pages you may well find a number of surprises.

Gordon Frickers at his own expense travelled to Brest, Paris, London, Liverpool, Madrid, San Sebastian Naval base & Cadiz, visited Cape Trafalgar and researched the Battle of Trafalgar very extensively to study source material before putting paint to canvas, see Some Sources consulted included.

NEW – Most of the Trafalgar paintings on site have never been seen before.
All of Gordon Frickers work is available in fine art quality print.
If it is not in limited edition it can be printed, currently from £135.00 for your special order; one off, signed, open edition – this was impossible 3 years ago, an example of new technology and very reasonable prices working in your favour.

Coming soon – greetings cards available in packs of 20.

Special thanks to the Plymouth Twinning Office and to the Office des Jumalages et Relations Internationales de la ville de Brest, the Naval attaché of the Spanish Embassy in Paris, to Mr. John Smith former head of department, Plymouth Naval Reference Library, M. Jean Paul et Mme. Martee Cans of Paris, Lt Cmdr M. Cheshire (former commander HMS Victory), Prof. Michel Malgorn.

Every detail was a subject for re-evaluation & detailed discussion between the Artist & many experts in England, France and Spain, in particular Peter Goodwin, Keeper and Curator, HMS Victory.

In the future

Gordon’s interest in this period started when aged 13.
He was given a copy of Midshipman Hornblower by his Father, it grew when aged 18 he was a guest at a R.N. dinner in Nelson’s cabin.

It is hoped this artist will be able to finish the unfinished paintings show on this web site and go forward to paint more of his exceptional insights for us and posterity.

Thank you for your attention.
We hope you enjoy your visit here and let us know what you think.

Gordon Frickers Gallery © 2005.
All Rights Reserved.

Some Sources consulted included

Are H.M.S. Victory and the battle of Trafalgar important?

H.M.S. Victory is the only surviving ship of her type from a time when all major European countries had fleets of such ships.
Trafalgar was a battle that effected / changed world history for over 100 years.

More on this at the bottom of this page.

Two of Gordon Frickers’s Trafalgar paintings (“Trafalgar Dawn” and H.M. Schooner “Pickle”, carrying the news of the Battle of Trafalgar ) are available as limited edition prints. Click on an image below to see a larger image of, detail on, and archived information on the limited edition, or go to our Print Gallery to collect your print.

To see Gordon Fricker’s other Trafalgar paintings and sketches click on an image below to see a larger image of, and detail on, the painting, sketch or print. A selection of some of the best recent books on the subject are on offer below.



Frequent visits to the ship HMS Victory.

Peter Goodwin, I. Eng AMIMarE. Historical Consultant, keeper of HMS Victory, H.M. Naval Base, Portsmouth.

Royal Naval Museum, Heritage Area, including Dr Colin White

Liverpool Maritime Museum,

The Tate Gallery, Liverpool

Plymouth Libary, Naval Reference section

National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London

San Sebastian Navel base and Museum, Cadiz.

Museo Naval, Paseo del Prado, 5 – 28071, Madrid.

Town Hall, Cadiz.

Universidad de Cadiz.

Musee de la Marin, Palais de Chaillot, Paris.

Service Historique de Marine, Chateau de Vincennes, Armees.

Musee de la Marine, la Châteaux, Brest.

Carpenters Stores Expenses, HMS Victory, October 1805, Museum ref 1064/83, record 2376

Report of the 1913 Committee

Log of George Almy, 2nd Master & Pilot, H.M.S. Pickle

Log of Robert Louthanean, Master, Polyphemus

Log of Joseph Seymour, Master, Conqueror

Log of Conqueror

Journal of Lieut.
John Barclay, Britannia

Journal of Captain J.N. Morris, Colossus

Journal of Captain Henry Digby, Africa

Log of Thomas Webb, Master, Agamemnon

Journal & Log of Captain Thomas F. Freemantle, Neptune

Log of Thomas Atkinson, Master, Victory

Quotes from journals of the day, various sources

Nelson’s Ships: A Comprehensive History of Nelson’s Ships, Peter Goodwin, Conway Maritime Press 2002 (ISBN 0 85177 742 2)

The Ships of Trafalgar: The British, French and Spanish Fleets, 21 October 1805, Peter Goodwin, Conway Maritime Press 2005 (ISBN 1 84486 015 9)

The Line of battle, series editor R. Gardiner, Conway Maritime Press 1992 (ISBN 0 85177 561 6)

Sailing ships of War, Dr F. Howard, Conway Maritime Press (ISBN 0 85177 138 6)

Masts & Rigging of English Ships of War, James Lee, Conway Maritime Press (ISBN 0 85177 290 0)

The Wooden World, N A M Rogers, Fontana Press (ISBN 0 00 686152 0)

Manual of Seamanship, Vol 1, 1908, H.M. Stationary Office

The Trafalgar Campaign, The Naval Campaign of 1805, Vol 2, by Edouard Desbriere, Chef D’Escadron de Cavalerie Brevete Chef de la Section Historique de L’Etat – Major de l’Armee, translated by C Eastwick Oxford University Press 1933.

The Anatomy of the 100 gun ship Victory, John McKay, Conway maritime Press 1987 (ISBN 0 85177 444X)

Uniforms of Trafalgar, John Fabb & Jack Cassin-Scott, Batsford, London, 1977 (ISBN 0 7134 0218 0 (hardback), 0 7134 0219 0 (Paperback)).

Sir Home Popham’s telegraphic Code, 1803 version.

The Life of Nelson, The Embodiment of The Sea Power of Great Britain, second edition, Captain A T Mahan, DCL, LLD, United States Navy.

Gordon Frickers (C) ; 2005.
All Rights Reserved.


Are H.M.S. Victory and the battle of Trafalgar important?


It is as if only one castle or chateau survived from the medieval age.


“Victory” took part in many of the famous actions of her day. A more distinguished ship would be hard to name.


If from all the great “ships of the Line” (of battle) ships one sought an ideal ship to preserve, “Victory” would certainly soon be near if not on the top of your list. “Victory” was very sea worthy and for her type, fast but much more.

As one of the biggest class of fighting ships in the age of sail, (1st rate, 100 + guns) H.M.S. “Victory” is the only surviving ship of her type, one of the biggest first rates.

“Victory” was ordered by the Navy Board on the 6th of June 1759 and launched on the 7th May 1765, “Victory” flew the flag of many of Britain’s most famous Admirals, Keppel, Hood, Jervis, and including Horatio Nelson. After Nelson other great names flew their flag from “Victory”, with Saumarez was active in the Baltic, and she remains a flagship to this day.
How many lesser men served her? We can only guess.

During 35 years of continuous war, a chain of events starting for Great Britain (as opposed to “Petite Britain”, Bretagne in France) with the “Jumonville Glen” incident in 1754 and, primarily through the labour of the Royal Navy, Britain became the dominant Global Super Power.
Victory” is typical of the most powerful class of ship from that period and one of the finest ever built.

Victory” also represents wooden ship building as it approached it’s zenith in design, construction, technology (yes she was technologically advanced for her time in many ways).
Today we can visit “Victory” at Portsmouth Royal Dockyard and see how under the skillful, learned guidance of her former curator and keeper Peter Goodwin, the Georgian navy fully integrated industrial inventiveness.

We are lucky to have her with us today.

It is upon the Navy under the Providence of God that the safety, honour and welfare of this realm do chiefly depend” – from the Articles of War (1652) read weekly to all Royal Navy ships crews for 300 years.


Are H.M.S. Victory and the battle of Trafalgar important? A selection of some of the best recent books on the subject are on offer below. It’s for you to decide.

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To acquire this or commission a similar painting

Contact US ~ T:+ 44 (0)1865 52 2435  or Skype ‘gordonfrickers’

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In long bygone days my first visit to HMS Victory was in 1966 at the invitation of Mr. Martin Simmonds, one of my art teachers at Maidstone College of Art, he was an ex sub mariner and our good friend, my Father and I with Martin attended a Royal Navy Silver Service dinner organised by the Society for Nautical Research, on board in Nelson’s day cabin  ; thank you Martin and the SNR; a fine ‘mess’ in more senses than one, that you got me into!!!

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