Britain on the High Seas – Wars and Wealth

12th September 2023

Britain on the High Seas: Wars and Wealth is the fourth in our series of catalogues showcasing the advances in both domestic and international trade arising from the relative world peace afforded by the defeat of Napoleon by Admiral Lord Nelson at Trafalgar in 1805 and by Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington at Waterloo in 1815.

Our journey takes us from Georgian warships to luxury yachting in the early 20th century, including participation by the Royal Family on Royal Yachts Osborne, Victoria and Albert and both the racing yacht and the motor yacht Britannia. Along the way we will look at merchandise imported by our rapidly expanding merchant navy. Advances in maritime technology are represented by navigational instruments from pocket globes to inclinometers and from spectacular ships’ models such as American sloop-of-war steamer USS Hartford to Vimiera the largest cargo ship ever launched from the Deptford shipyard in Sunderland. From the age of opulence and the pursuit of speed we have several silver trophies for sailing yacht races and a series of prizes awarded for early motor boat racing in Monaco. 

However, the lion’s share of this catalogue is dedicated to arguably the greatest military leader of the 19th century – Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington. We have been fortunate to acquire a collection of portrait busts and equestrian statues of the Iron Duke from Viscount Kemsley whose mother was Pamela Wellesley, a direct descendant of the great man. We finish with bronze portraits of the greatest leaders of the 20th and 21st centuries – Sir Winston Churchill and Queen Elizabeth II.

Caroline Wallrock. Britain on the High Seas series – From Nelson to ChurchillTrafalgar, Trophies and TradeMerchants and Mariners, and Jubilee, 2022.

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