Lord and Lady Gretton, Stapleford Park, Leicestershire; With Richard Green, London, by 2001; From whom acquired by the present owner.
Thomas Whitcombe was a prolific marine artist, though little is known about the details of his life. He exhibited at the Royal Academy most years between 1783 and 1824 and was one of the preeminent recorders of ships and sea battles of the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars. Here we are presented with the final sea battle of the War of American Independence, 1775–83, which was fought between the British West Indies fleet commanded by Admiral Sir George Rodney and his French counterpart, Vice-Admiral the Comte de Grasse. Rodney ultimately won the battle by employing his novel tactic of 'breaking the line', which was subsequently adopted in the Navy as a desirable addition to fighting instructions, and which he is still remembered for to this day.
The canvas is lined, the paint surface is clean and the varnish only slightly discoloured. There is visible retouching to an old rectangular-shaped tear in the canvas, upper centre, 15 by 5 cm. Inspection under ultraviolet light confirms this, as well as further areas of retouching in the sky, upper left, upper right, along the left margin, and in the sky, upper centre. The largest area of retouching is to an old L-shaped damage above the sail, centre right, measuring 6 by 10 cm. There are further fine lines of retouching scattered throughout to disguise the network of craquelure, the most concentrated area of which runs along the edge of the sail of the ship, lower right. All these retouchings are sensitively executed and do not impede the legibility of the image. The painting is in overall good condition.
Offered in a carved and gilt wood frame in good condition. "In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue. NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF BUSINESS PRINTED IN THE SALE CATALOGUE."