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Art Marine

HMS Captain' entering Portoferraio, 10th July 1796 - Geoff Hunt

HMS Captain' entering Portoferraio, 10th July 1796 - Geoff Hunt

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Oil on canvas
22 x 28 inches (56 x 71 cm)
Signed, lower right

By 1796 the British position in the Mediterranean was worsening. To counteract the French occupation of Leghorn, elements of the British fleet were sent to occupy the fortress of Portoferraio, on Elba. A squadron of frigates and troop-transports was commanded by Nelson, flying his commodore’s flag aboard the seventy-four-gun HMS Captain. The whole affair was managed with the acquiescence of the Elban authorities, and the citadel was occupied without a shot being fired, other than a fifteen-gun salute on either side. The painting shows Captain rounding the headland, a frigate preceding her into the harbour. The ship’s barge had been hoisted out before dawn, perhaps to contact troops who had been landed along the coast the previous night, and is being towed astern.

Geoff Hunt writes: “This corner of Elba has not changed much in appearance over the last two hundred years, and I painted this picture as much to explore my own memories of sailing in and around Portoferraio as for any other motive. Nelson called Portoferraio “for its size the most complete harbour in the world”, and I can second this, having endured a forecast force 11 while anchored there, not exactly comfortably, but at least in safety.”

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