First Shots, Trafalgar

HMS Victory, battle of Trafalgar, ranging shots, the first hole in her fore top sail, the battle began in earnest, this painting is one of “The Nelson and Trafalgar Collection”, read on …

HMS Victory, Trafalgar, ranging shots begin to reach her
HMS Victory, Trafalgar, ranging shots.

Painted by Gordon Frickers,  76 x 121 cm (30″ x 48″)

Available £/€ 18,000.

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Any reputable gallery should be delighted to offer you this Trafalgar painting for this price… and are welcome to help you buy this classic painting, a timeless subject.


The Painting :

What makes for a classic painting, a time proof investment? Your thoughts?

With another Trafalgar anniversary fading into history, “First Shots, Trafalgar” is as fresh with salt spray and the reverberation of cannons today when I created this painting in 1994/5.


At the moment portrayed as described in diaries and log books by those present at the battle of Trafalgar, a hole appeared in HMS Victory‘s fore topsail.


The Combined Fleet have found the range, now the battle of Trafalgar will really start, ships of  The Combined Fleet will open fire in earnest.


A twist upon the traditionally version outlined in most but not all books on Trafalgar.

By carefully reading of original documents I discovered this moment portrayed was my key to realisation.

Nelson did not as popularly thought sail straight at the French line.

The truth supported by facts is more complex, more interesting and Nelson was more clever than that.


Equally ignored by most authors, Nelson’s opponent, Admiral (Pierre Charles Jean Baptiste Silvestre de) Villeneuve, who had previously fought Nelson’s fleet at the battle of the Nile, anticipated Nelson’s tactics.

Villeneuve understood his predicament very well and that thorough understanding was the reason Villeneuve ordered the Combined Fleet during the morning, to reverse its course.

An order which given the light airs, westerly ground swell and inexperience of some crews and  seriously disrupted the formation of the Combined Fleet.

The order did though, place the safe haven of Cadiz under the lee of the Combined Fleet so had significant consequences during the stormy days following the battle of Trafalgar.


My brief :

was to explore and paint lesser known but interesting aspects of the story of Nelson, Victory and Trafalgar.

So, what really happened?

My extensive, meticulous research included reading widely and visiting archives and speaking with specialists and experts in London, Madrid, Cadiz, San Sebastian (Naval Base), Paris, Brest (Naval Base), Liverpool, Portsmouth and of course, his own home port of Plymouth.

I had the privileged and honour of being  official marine artist to HMS Victory for Victory 2er and Curator, and his team of experts to return Victory to her original ‘Trafalgar’ condition for the 2005 bi centenary.


The Society of Nautical Research :

was the largely responsible for saving Victory in 1921 for posterity and continues to support the ship’s well being.

However the ship they saved had been drastically altered since Nelson’s days.

Something had to be done before 2005, the 200th anniversary of the battle of Trafalgar and funds were needed.

Click on the image above or the image below to see more of the fine quality and detail of this remarkable marine painting.

The restoration was an awesome success as you would have discovered for yourself if you take the ‘long tour’ or have a private tour of HMS Victory.

Unfortunately, the present keepers of HMS Victory have undone our work.

They have without explanation or accounting, removed most of the treasures, artefacts the then Keeper and Curator, the now legendary Mr. Peter Goodwin has painstakingly accumulated for public display.



Click on the small images to see detail from First Shots, Trafalgar.

First Shots, detail, click for enlagement
First Shots, detail, click for enlargement



Further reading , Trafalgar, what was The Nelson Touch? HMS Victory coming under fire at Trafalgar.



HMS Victory photographed by Gordon Frickers August 2007
HMS Victory photographed by Gordon Frickers August 2007


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Copyright 2019:

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Copyright 2020:

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Gordon Frickers © updated 22.10.2020



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