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Art Marine

A Long Chase in Prospect- Oil on canvas by Geoff Hunt RSMA.

A Long Chase in Prospect- Oil on canvas by Geoff Hunt RSMA.

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Oil on canvas

22 x 32 inches, signed lower right

Sold by Art Marine to an American collector, July 2021

Geoff Hunt writes:

"Commodore Hayes, commanding His Britannic Majesty's frigates Endymion, Pomone and Tenedos, carrying his flag in the Majestic, was on blockade duty off New York in early January 1815, cruising close off Sandy Hook. Blown off station by a violent snow-storm on the 14th, he guessed that Commodore Decatur  would seize this opportunity to get his USS President out to sea, and further correctly guessed Decatur's likely course. Consequently, at daylight on the 15th, President 'appeared as if by rendezvous'  but some five miles ahead of the British squadron. The chase was on.

This is the moment depicted in the painting.

The day began with strong winds but these eased progressively until by afternoon there was so little wind that all ships were carrying every stitch of canvas.

 Following crushing defeats in single-ship frigate actions earlier in the war, the Royal Navy had realised that its standard frigate classes were no match for American heavy frigates such as the President, which were in every respect some fifty percent larger, stronger and more heavily armed than British frigates. By 1815 the British had formulated responses to this threat, and Hayes' squadron was a perfect example. His flagship Majestic was a 'razee', a cut-down 74-gun battleship, and more than a match for the President if it could only catch it. Endymion (Capt. Hope) was the nearest British equivalent to President, a heavy frigate not far short of the American's size and weight of fire. And of course, the squadron had two other frigates as well.

 Most importantly on this day, Endymion had the speed to catch the American.  As the strong winds - which favoured the heavy Majestic - eased, Endymion surged on ahead, and after a chase of seven hours gradually began to overhaul President despite every resource Decatur employed to escape. The two ships were firing steadily at each other from 2 pm onwards. Sunset was at 4.45pm; still they fought on at close range. Around 8 pm aboard Endymion it seemed that the President had ceased fire and they even believed that the Americans had surrendered; but the American dismantling shot had destroyed Endymion's sails and she had no boats left to take the surrender, so she stood off to bend six new sails, which was done in the space of one hour, before resuming the chase. But by now the rest of the squadron had caught up, and at 11.40pm it was Tenedos that finally took the American flagship's surrender."


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