Trafalgar and Nelson
Trafalgar Dawn 2 has finally started to appear on the canvas!!!
A picture showing the progress will appear on this blog soon.
This new painting will make a pair to go with the now renowned “Trafalgar
dawn“, a view from among the crew onboard HMS Victory at 06.05, Monday the
21st of October 1805 and based on eye witness reports and research.
You may recall, “Trafalgar dawn” was painted some years ago as part of a
series commissioned for HMS Victory,
That series includes the now equally well known “I have urgent dispatches”
Both are available as prestige quality signed limited editions.
The new painting is as yet is unsold unless someone makes Gordon Frickers an offer he
This new marine painting is intended to go next year for exhibition
following invitations to exhibit at the European Parliament (the first
marine artist ever invited) and in the City of Plymouth where much research
was carried out.
It is also being suggested “Trafalgar dawn, the French perspective” is
shown at the Musee Maritime, Paris, also a venue of research, but as I am
not yet know there only time will tell!
This new original painting, 12″ x 48″ shows a scene onboard the French
flagship “Bucentaure” at about 06.20 on Monday the 21st of October 1805
because the French reported they sighted the British fleet slightly later than
We have not yet decided the final title of this new marine painting.
It took ages to sort out the British fleet.
Much of the information was conflicting, new research was able to resolve
most of the issues.
Dozens of hours of research, reading, drawing diagrams and cross checking
was required aa well as additional visits principally to “Victory” and the
There were quite a few surprises too including the Official report of the
Admiralty Committee of 1913 got several ships in the wrong place for 06.00.
They failed to notice the British were very roughly in 4 columns at dawn and wrongly placed several ships.
Thus some of the ships logs are wrong? What a bunch of navigators?
Not that they will worry about that, still it would have been a fun debate!
The moment when Gordon Frickers finally had the British fleet marked out as accurately as
possible and stood back was quite moving.
He realised he was the first person to see the sight since those who actually
witnessed the view.
The painting of “Nelson boarding Minerve at Gibraltar” is finished except for
some tidying up and the running rigging on Minerve.
This painting fits well our original brief, re the lesser know but
significant parts of Nelson’s career and as a bonus shows 2 of the ships in
which Nelson served.
This story was the prelude to Nelson becoming seriously famous.
This story of which this painting represents is likely surprise people when
they know the story which reads a bit like a “Boys Own” adventure.
Following diligent research, Gordon Frickers found this part of the Nelson story is barely
mentioned and not at all in many of the books about Nelson.
In essentials, Nelson, then a commodore, was ordered by Admiral John Jervis to supervise
the British withdrawal from the Med which Nelson described to his wife as an
important but not dangerous service.
The frigate Minerve, within days of leaving Gibraltar, in company with another frigate Blanche,
was in a fierce night action against 2 Spanish frigates.
The story goes the ships paired off, when hailed by Minerve her opponent replied, this is a
Spanish frigate and you may begin when you wish!
The Spanish ship was gallantly defended during a fierce half hour action which left the victorious Minerve but quite damaged.
The Spanish commander turned out to be a direct descendant of bonnie Prince Charlie.
Nelson was very impressed by both the defence and the blod line so most irregularly, returned the vanquished Spaniards sword.
The next day the 2 prizes had to be abandoned to escape a superior Spanish
force which almost caught the 2 damaged British frigates.
The British frigates lost their prizes.
Abandoned prize crews included one Lt Thomas Masterman Hardy.
Nelson completed the rest of his mission during and immediately after which
he showed some of his finest personal qualities.
On returning to Gibraltar he learned a large force of Spanish ships of the
line had just past Gibraltar sailing West.
He pursued; in turn pursued by 2 large Spanish war ships one of which almost
Through out this episode in Nelson’s story, an episode not even mentioned in many ‘Nelson’ books, Horatio Nelson demonstrated many of the fascinating qualities which lead to his eternal fame.
An example being while pusued by the 2 Spaniards, both much stronger ships than the frigate Minerve, a man fell over board.
Upon hearing the dread cry “man over board”, Lt Thomas Hardy gallantly rushed up from below and jumped into the little ‘jolly’ boat which went to look for the lost sailor.
The poor fellow was not found, worse, when the jolly boat tried to pull back to Minerve it was soon apparent the jolly boat was dropping further astern.
Despite the oncoming Spaniard, Nelson exclaimed “by God I’ll not loose Hardy” and ordered the mizzen topsail of Minerve backed to slow her down.
The Spaniard, suspecting a trap, also slowed to allow her consort to catch up.
The jolly boat and her people were recovered, little wonder the men loved Nelson, Minerve escaped.
One of Nelson’s dictum’s was “often the boldest course is the best“.
Not sure if the Spanish fleet were going to head North or West Nelson was
prepared contrary to orders to abandon his post and sail West to warn the
British in the Caribbean or North to join John Jervis’ fleet on watch off Cadiz.
As luck would have it Minerve sailed right into the middle of the Spanish fleet – in thick fog.
Skillfully extracting herself, the following day Minerve found the British Fleet, Nelson reported to Jervis then rejoined HMS Captain (also shown in this painting).
Very soon after there followed the battle now known to the British as “The battle of Cape St Vincent” during which Nelson disobeyed orders and created “Nelson’s patent bridge for boarding first rates”; but that is another story and maybe another painting…
The next marine painting Gordon Frickers will be preparing will be a scene from the voyage of the French explorer Laperouse showing the day he met with ‘The first fleet‘ at Botany Bay and that painting to be followed by a new version of the ubiquitous HM schooner Pickle.
This is only a brief account of an adventure in the story of Horatio Nelson.
The full account is even more remarkable.
Gordon has agreed to write more about these two historic paintings soon, discussing the details of the paintings, outlining the finer points of his research, much of it previously unpublished , giving us greater insights into a facinating period of naval history.
If you think I can help you in any other way, don’t hesitate to ask.
Email with your phone number and I’ll give you a call.
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