Presentation drawing of the Chelengk jewel awarded to Admiral Lord Nelson by Sultan Selim III of Turkey






Height 35.70 inch. Width 24.30 inch.

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Ink and watercolour on toned paper, 357mm x 243mm, later mounted in red leather case. With annotation: Captain Nisbet requests Mr Stanley will do him the Honor of accepting a drawing of the Chelingh which was given to his Gallant Father Lord Nelson of the Nile by the Grand Seignior 1798. Turkish School, 1798.

Provenance: Provenance:Captain Josiah Nisbet (1780-1830) By his gift to ‘Mr Stanley’ By 1971, Private Collection, Canada.
This drawing is a unique survival of the Sultan of Turkey’s original gift to Nelson. On burnished paper it accompanied the presentation of the diamond Çelenc (‘Chelengk’) or ‘Plume of Triumph’ and an Ottoman Robe of Honour to Admiral Lord Nelson by Kelim Effendi on behalf of Sultan Selim III of Turkey at Naples on 13 December 1798. The presents were sent in tribute of Nelson’s recent victory at the Battle of the Nile. With the theft of the Chelengk in 1951 and loss of the robe, this drawing remains the only tangible relic of the Sultan’s gift and offers remarkable insight into the jewel’s original design. Josiah Nisbet (1780-1830) was Nelson’s step-son and served in the Mediterranean Fleet during the Nile Campaign. He joined his step-father in Naples following the Battle of the Nile and probably witnessed the presentation of the Sultan of Turkey’s gifts in December 1798. In January 1799, on Nelson’s orders Nisbet conveyed the Turkish delegation back to Constantinople in the sloop Bonne Citoyenne. He was subsequently given command of the frigate Thalia before returning to England in October 1800. Nisbet’s conflict with his stepfather over Nelson’s affair with Emma, Lady Hamilton, caused their estrangement and may have motivated his giving away the drawing. ‘Mr Stanley’ to whom Nisbet presented the drawing could be Edward Stanley, British Consul at Trieste from 1788 to at least 1819; or a member of the Stanley family of the Island of Nevis where Nisbet was raised on his mother’s family plantation before she married Nelson and where they retained strong ties. John Stanley (1740- 1799), a lawyer and Attorney General of Nevis, was a neighbour and close family friend later admired by Nelson, whilst his brother Joseph Stanley (will proved 1834) was a merchant on the island.

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