Oil Painting Portrait of a British Royal Navy Cruiser By 'W.NASH, 96'

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A fine oil on board portrait of a British Navy Protected Cruiser, circa 1890. The painting is signed in the lower right corner, 'W. NASH', with a stylized bracket below containg, '95' which would be a proper date for the painting.

In this period of Empire building the British Admiralty built relatively heavily armed armor belted steel warships. These vessels had to be capable of prolonged cruises in far places and were termed, 'Cruisers'. Their mission was to protect British colonies from attacks by sea by foreign powers, and to attack the ships and colonies of britain's enemies in times of war. Due to the breadth of the British Empire a fair number of this type warship were built and many of them led quite colorful lives.

Please click here to see information on Royal Navy Cruisers of this type.

This very attractive oil portrait was painted in the 1890s and depicts a "protected Cruiser" of the period. Her Royal Navy 'White Ensign' can be seen at her stern. We do not know what particular cruiser she represents. Her form is typical of her class and one can see from the number and large size of her below-decks-ventilators that she was built for operating in tropical waters. It is also interesting to note that her masts carry ratlines and her yards show furled sails. To preserve coal on extended cruises these ships were expected to set some sails whenever possible. The concept of naval sail / steam cruising was dropped around 1900 when the British had secured enough coaling stations around the world to no longer need that fuel economy practice.

This is a very handsome and highly detailed painting. The cruiser is very accurately depicted in form, proportion and color. The detail work in deck fittings, guns, boats, bridge work, masts, and rigging, is exceptionally well done indicating the artist had great knowledge of this vessel. The painting also shows a headland with possible fortification off the ship's bow which may be identifiable.

Naval ship portraits of this size - convenient to display in an officer's cabin - were often executed by both indiginous port painters in places the ships visited, or by naval officers serving aboard the ships. From the fifteenth century into the twentieth century naval officers were trained to draw headlands, ports, and ships to keep a visual record of what they saw on voyages. Some of them became talented artists, some became famous artists. The easy to use roll film camera eventually took over this important work.

This fine painting is in original as-found condition. It shows light craquelure from age, a few scratches and minor stains in the sky area. It has has a proper frame for its genre which is in excellent condition.

A fine looking nineteenth century portrait of a historical class of Royal Navy ship for the collector and worth further research. We have had this piece for years and are downsizing our own collection.

Dimensions: sight 15" x 8", frame 18 1/2" x 11 1/2"

Price: $ 550.00

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