Trafalgar Project Background

These 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.

The images to help raise funds for the ship and the Royal Navy Museum, Portsmouth.

HMS Victory
Hyperlink > Dockyard 400 , one of The Nelson & Trafalgar Collection, available.

The project was aimed at raising awareness of HMS Victory thus funds.

To illuminate what she represents as a world heritage artefact, 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.  

Gordon Frickers, October 2018

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Fit for a Princess :

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 Captain 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 beyond.

With the hindsight given us today one can now see that period in our lives 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 – Very few of these extraordinary Trafalgar paintings on this site have ever been exhibited or used for any ‘commercial purpose’. A few have been seen on TV  and appear in a number of authoritative books.

They are all memorable and historical documents, significant Trafalgar paintings.

There is also some fun and mischief to be seen, my friend, the famous yachtsman Sir Robin Knox-Johnston was the model for the boson seen in the eyes of the schooner HMS Pickle is an example as is a more accurate redefining of the traditional version of Nelson’s tactics at Trafalgar.

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 1993 soon after which I had the privilege of unlimited access to Nelson’s famous flagship.

The paintings were and are intended to be part of a project to raise money to support the preservation of HMS Victory and the RN Museum Portsmouth.

In that they are successful.

The paintings, some now sold have never been publicly exhibited. A core of some 15 paintings remains to which from time to time I add another, it seems a pity not to use my extensive notes, research and knowledge so as and when, I do. As I write, the newest addition is “HMS Racehorse”, painted for the new book”Nelson’s Arctic Voyage [Bloomsbury Press, London, out soon. Some remain unfinished (“Death of Nelson, a French marksman’s view” and “The Carronade “).

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

From the outset I appreciated most of the new Trafalgar pictures would be quite predictable, the big ships going into and in action etc. So it proved to be in 2005.

My 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 my experience as a qualified photographer, under sail, as a master shipwright, an historian and of course as a painter.

The margin of the prints “Trafalgar Dawn” and “Trafalgar Dawn The French Perspective” includes a sketch of the combined fleet, named in the (probable) order of sailing at 06.05 hrs 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 I began to work on my series of paintings about Nelson & Trafalgar (“Nelson’s Column “) in 1995 I realised as I  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.

I 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

At my own expense I travelled to Brest, Paris, London, Liverpool, Madrid, San Sebastian Naval base & Cadiz, visited Cape Trafalgar and researched the Battle of Trafalgar as extensively as then possible, studing source material before putting paint to canvas, see Some Sources consulted included.

Much of my work is available in fine art quality print on canvas for the look and feel of the real thing.
If it is not in limited edition it can be printed, for a reasonable price 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.

Special thanks go to my principle sponsors Nic Varley, David Ellinghan and John Mitchell for their ability to bring on my talents, their faith in me.  Also to the good people of 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.

A future

My interest in this period started when aged 13.
My father gave his bored teen age son  a copy of Midshipman Hornblower saying, I enjoyed this, see what you think of it”.  My interest was fuelled when aged 18, with my Father, one of my college teachers, Martin Simmonds, tok us to Portsmouth for a Society of Nautical Research ‘silver service’ dinner, as  guests of the  Royal Navy, a dinner in Nelson’s cabin.

How could I not be impressed?

Part of the outcome is you have here exceptional insights, paintings for all our tomorrows, for our posterity.

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

Gordon Frickers Gallery © 2005, updated October 2018
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.

Victory was and happily still is 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.

“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 with the “Jumonville Glen” incident in 1754.

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, she was technologically advanced for her time in many ways).
Today we can visit “Victory” at Portsmouth Royal Dockyard and see how under the skilful, 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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Kizmet or kiss, spinning a yarn… 


Chris Fagg a long time ship mate of mine, on seeing my post on Facebook 14.10.2018, below ‘Nelson and the Minerve‘, asked a classic ‘Nelson’ question so I’ll share with you for discussion if you wish, my answer. 

Hyperlink > Nelson and the ‘Minerve
Q : What were #Nelson‘s last words ‘#Kizmet or Kiss me’?
As far as I know his last words were “Thank God I have done my duty.”
However the kiss / kizmet controversy remains.
We will never know for sure.
I have never seen a statement by some one present that Nelson said ‘kiss’, or that Captain Hardy did kiss the dying Nelson.
That doesn’t mean such a statement does not exist.
Despite your opinion Chris Fagg of my age and ‘wisdom’, I was not with Nelson when he died.
That was a rather busy day for all present.
The late Dr Colin White, for many years curator of the Royal Navy Museum, Portsmouth, who I knew quite well including as a drink navy rum companion, was of the opinion Nelson said ‘kiss me’.
Then again, Colin was a homosexual so maybe just a teeny bit biased?
My own view having read extensively about Nelson, delivered 10 interactive public talks on ‘Nelson as a Role Model’, [I still have my notes] and discussed him with many people is he was most likely to have said ‘kizmet’ [fate].
Nelson had a considerable sense of destiny, knew Trafalgar would be the last really decisive naval battle of the Napoleonic Wars and knew he was loosing his sight, so I’d opt for ‘kizmet’.
However, as men of his time went, he was a warm hearted fellow, considerate of others, tremendously brave [on the eve of Trafalgar he is quoted as saying “this will be my 106th action”].
He was much loved by many including the plain Jack Tars.
Tough real men many of whom openly blubbered when they learnt of his death, so Colin might be correct.
This would be a good question for my colleague and friend the husband of Katy Goodwin, Peter, who was curator of HMS Victory and is an active, distinguished naval author.
Maybe for Philip Allan who unlike Peter, is on Facebook.
Philip is also an impressively knowledgeable person, naval authority and author.

Look closely and you will see Nelson sitting on the stern sheets of the barge detail show here. 

Hyperlink > Nelson and Minerve
By the way, the painting is now available for exhibition as are all the as yet unsold paintings in that remarkable collection. To date the set have only been shown once.
A private ‘soiree’ at the Army and Navy Club, St James, Pall Mall, London.
Beautiful presented by Rochay Elite of Pall Mall, the paintings looked so fabulous they even surprised me.
For young people looking for role models, I would recommend they find [Amazon?] and read a copy of The Life of Nelson by the American author Captain A. T. Mahan [USN] written in 1897.
He was an American naval officer and historian who was a highly influential exponent of sea power in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
He sought to arouse his fellow Americans to a realisation of their maritime responsibilities.
Still one of the best history’s on the subject, I treasure my second edition [1899] copy.

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Gordon Frickers © updated 19,09,2016, 14.03.2018, 14.10.2018

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