An interpretation of Admiral Duncan receiving the surrender of the Dutch Admiral de Winter, following the Battle of Camperdown, painted 30 years after the event. Admiral Duncan countered the threat of French invasion when he defeated the Dutch fleet at Camperdown in 1797. His victory was regarded as one of the most important naval actions of its time. He was commander of the North Sea fleet blockading Holland when the Dutch fleet, commanded by Admiral de Winter, appeared. A hard-fought action ensued with many casualties. Duncan's own ship, the 'Venerable', 74 guns, took many hits. When Duncan's flag was shot from the main topmast, he retrieved it himself and, in a famous incident, seaman Jack Crawford of Sunderland climbed up to reattach it to the shattered masthead. With de Winter's surrender, Duncan was able to claim 11 ships as prizes from an enemy fleet of 18.
The shows the quarter-deck of the Duncan's flagship 'Venerable' with Duncan, de Winter and Captain Fairfax of the 'Venerable' in the centre. Duncan is on the right in full-dress uniform with the sash and star of the Order of the Bath. He holds his hat in his left hand and his right hand prepares to receive de Winter's sword. Fairfax introduces de Winter to Duncan. De Winter is shown conceding his sword to Duncan. The seaman pulling at a fallen flag on the anti-boarding netting may be intended to represent Jack Crawford. In the right foreground, a gun carriage has the ensign of the Dutch flagship 'Vrijheid', 74 guns, thrown over it.
The group watching the surrender includes a sailor, drummer and a boy seaman with his back to the viewer. To their left, behind Duncan is a boy in a Tam o' Shanter, presumably his servant. One Dutch ship, the 'Hercules', 64 guns, is shown on fire in the background. Figures are positioned in highly stylized attitudes, and those encircling the main action in the foreground resemble a frieze: limbs, backs and elbows form a rhythmic counterpoint to the static main action.
Where to see this painting?
National Maritime Museum
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