Lot 231
  • 231

Thomas Luny

60,000 - 80,000 USD
100,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Thomas Luny
  • The Battle of Trafalgar, 21st October 1805
  • oil on canvas
  • 36 by 60 in.; 91.5 by 152.4 cm.


D. Lewis;
Anonymous sale, London, Christie's, 6 December 1935, lot 159 (as signed and dated 1823) for 30 Guineas, to Tetley;
Anonymous sale, New York, Christie's East, 17 February 1999, lot 287 (as Attributed to Luny);
There acquired by Bernadette and William M.B. Berger, Denver, Colorado.

Catalogue Note

The Battle of Trafalgar was Admiral Lord Nelson’s most celebrated victory and the one which, ultimately, cost him his life.  Fought off Cape Trafalgar on the Spanish coast near Cadiz, the British fleet was greatly outnumbered by a significantly larger Franco-Spanish fleet.  However, through Nelson’s brilliant strategy and daring, the enemy was roundly defeated in what is now considered to be one of the greatest maritime battles of all time.

In this painting, the de-masted ship foundering in the foreground is the Spanish 2 decker Monarca, a third rate ship of the line of 74 guns, commanded by Captain Don Teodoro de Argumosa.  During the battle she was attacked at close range by HMS Mars and HMS Tonnant as they first cut the Franco-Spanish line.  HMS Bellerophon, sailing behind Tonnant, then slipped under her stern and fired two broadsides into her, heavily damaging the ship, and she was captured by a party of Royal Marines.  She sustained 255 casualties during the action, out of a crew of 667, and was later destroyed by the guns of HMS Naiad.   At the center of the composition, still flying the French tricolor on her stern, is most likely the Rédoubtable, which endured devastating broadside attacks from HMS Victory and HMS Temeraire.  The ship on fire in the background at right is the French Téméraire class 74-gun ship of the line Achille.  At the rear of the Franco-Spanish line, she was heavily assaulted by HMS Defiance, HMS Dreadnought and HMS Prince, caught fire and eventually exploded when the fire reached her powder magazine, taking 480 crew down with her.