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"Naval Artists of the 18th Century - Creating the Image of" Topic


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©1994-2019 Bill Armintrout
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Tango0110 Dec 2018 9:02 p.m. PST

….the British Seaman
Part 2


"Loutherbourg. (Click here to read if you missed it then.) He was a painter of considerable renown who produced remarkable pictures of naval actions but it is likely that the vast majority of people in that period never had the opportunity to see them, or others like them. In that age of great naval engagements, and in which the seaman came to be seen as a heroic though poorly remunerated figure, it is likely that the popular image was created by engravings and prints. Often, but not invariably, based on larger paintings, these could be cheaply produced and sold at prices affordable by all but the poorest homes. For residents of inland towns and rural areas, some of whom may have gone through life without seeing the sea or a seaman, these prints provided the image of "Rule Britannia" incarnate. Frequently framed, they were to prove of great longevity and indeed a country public-house near my previous home has got a large number which have possibly hung there since they were purchased two centuries or more ago.

Cheap as such prints were they were often based on work by artists of the first order. They are frequently humorous, often sentimental, and though the tone is often unheroic, even anti-heroic, one gets a strong impression of the pride, brash confidence and carelessness for danger that characterised the seamen of the time. One can well imagine them squandering their meagre pay on drink and women, throwing away in an evening the prize-money they had dreamed of for years and grumbling and swearing incessantly but one can also imagine them accepting cold, injury and brutal punishment stoically and fighting like tigers when the occasion demanded. From these prints a picture emerges of the men who beat the French in war after war through the 18th Century and who, at Trafalgar, were to secure British naval dominance for the next century…"
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Armand

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