Portrait of the Captain

By: Carly Hill, Staff Writer • Jun 26, 2012 • 0 Comments

Revered as one of the greatest Naval heroes in the history of the U.K., Horatio Nelson is famous for his leadership, grasp of strategy, and unconventional tactics.  His victories against Napoleon really prepared and strengthened the navy at sea, which was key in Britains survival of World War I and II.

A true middle child, Horatio was number 6 of 11 children - not only that, but he was also a PK (Preacher’s Kid).  His family was linked to the government through his mother, who was the grand-niece of Sir Robert Walpole, British Prime Minister.  So, you can see, patriotism was always in his blood.  Talk about an early start - Horatio joined the navy at the young age of 12 and was made Captain by 20.  Ironically, Horatio was plagued by seasickness for the entirety of his life.  He married a widow - Francis Nisbet while in West Indies.  

Pictured above is a portrait, possibly of Captain Horatio Nelson, circa 1779-1785.  This portrait is very similar to one that is now on display in the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich.  This same painting was also the subject of an article in the Antique Collectors guide in February of 1988, entitled, “Anonymous Faces.”  This very similar portrait is available from Kahn Fine Antiques and Works of Art, right here.

During the French Revolutionary War in the late 1700s, Nelson was given command of the ship Agamemnon.  In Cavi, 1797, he lost sight in one eye.  That same year, during Britain’s unsuccessful attempt to capture Santa Cruz de Tenerife, he lost his right arm and went back to England.  The next year, when he returned, he was given the honor of a new title - Baron Nelson of the Nile.  He was in command of a squadron assisting the kingdom of the Two Sicilies.  There, he had an affair with the British ambassador’s wife, Lady Hamilton.  When he was ordered elsewhere, he refused to go because he said his presence was politically necessary.  Of course, it was suspected that he insisted to stay because he was in love.

In 1800, Nelson returned to England with the Hamiltons, and a year later, he left his wife.  That same year, he had a daughter with Lady Hamilton named Horatia.

He lost his life during the Napoleonic Wars.  Right before battle, he gave his famous signal, “England expects that every man will do his duty.”  In that battle, he won his most spectacular victory, but died in combat.

The portrait of the man pictured above encapsules the story of this exceptional man’s life.  Add it to your collection, and give your guests a history lesson while you’re at it!

Stop by every couple of days this week, as Latique is exploring the genre of militaria.  In the meantime, Happy Latiquing!