Baynton-Williams Gallery: Fine Antiquarian Maps and Prints

Smirke: The Glorious First of June

‹‹ Smirke: The Glorious First of June ››
Robert Smirke.
Commemoration of the Victory of June 1st. MDCCXCIV.
R. Smirke, R.A. Del.t. The Figures Engraved by F. Bartolozzi, R.A. Landscape & Water Eng.d by Landseer. Portraits of the Eng. by Ryder. Portraits of the Capt.s by Stow. Pub. by R. Bowyer, 1803, Historic Gallery, Pall Mall.
Stipple    800 x 426mm. Good, clear impression with some staining, a repaired tear just entering the platemark at top, a few repaired tears in margins.
An allegorical scene, with Britannia overlooking the battle, about to be crowned with the victor's laurels. Above are cameo portraits of the British admirals, below the captains, a total of 34 portraits.
The Glorious 1st June commemorates a naval battle in 1794, otherwise known as the Third Battle of Ushant (an island off Brittany). Following the outbreak of war with Revolutionary France, and spectacular French victories on continental soil, many Britons feared the Revolution would 'jump the Channel'. The revolution, war and a failed harvest meant much of France was starving. In May 1794 the Admiral Lord Howe sought to prevent a grain convoy from America reaching France. The stage was set for the first great clash of fleets representing Liberte, Egalite and Fraternite with those of King and Country; between Revolutionary France and the Royal Navy.
It was fought some 300 miles west of Brittany with 34 ships of the Royal Navy under the command of the aging Admiral Lord Howe and the French fleet of 26 ships under Rear Admiral Villaret-Joyeuse.
All along the line the fighting was intense and by the time the firing had died away 11 British and 12 French ships were more or less dismasted. Human casualties were high on both sides.
Tactically, the British won the day, and the news of victory was greeted with wild enthusiasm in Britain, but the grain convoy from America had escaped intact and made its way to France.

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