Britain on the High Seas – From Nelson to Churchill

30th April 2020


Click to read the Full PDF Britain on the High Seas

Foreword – 

The history of an island is defined by the sea and for a nation like Britain it has shaped its people, and their art. For centuries, the Royal Navy has been at the
heart of that story, inspiring painters and creating an extraordinary legacy of relics, artefacts, weapons and precious objects. With impressive scope, this catalogue offers a glimpse of the many maritime treasures still available to collectors. Inevitably, the richest seam is presented by the Georgian era when the Royal Navy reached its apogee of influence in the nation’s life. The wooden world of Nelson’s navy was a microcosm of the eighteenth-century society – with its elegant manners
of living – which produced it. In such a culture, Nelson could dine in his cabin on the beautiful porcelain and silver shown here before stepping out into the horrific maelstrom of naval battle. From jewels to furniture, books to musical instruments – remarkably, many owned by Nelson himself, or by his close associates – this collection propels us back to those distant seas once populated by remarkable and resilient men. Two centuries on, their possessions provide vivid physical contact with those lives. This is the real world which the fictional Jack Aubrey roamed within, brought vigorously forward to our own day.

If Britain’s greatest naval hero towers over the collection, it is bookended by that greatest of Britons: Sir Winston Churchill, included here as First Lord of the Admiralty during both world wars. Gazing into the pugnaciously familiar features of Churchill’s bronze mask brings us literally face to face with the great man, replicating, as only art can, the thrilling experience of meeting him

in person. More so than paintings, objects, with their lingering touch of former owners, have this transporting effect, of conveying us into the past. So, enjoy the ride offered by the many treasures in this catalogue and, if you dare, become part of their story yourself.

Martyn Downer

Author of Nelson’s Purse and Nelson’s Lost Jewel: The Extraordinary Story of the Lost Diamond Chelengk


Timeline and Table of Contents

29th September: Birth of Horatio Nelson

Page 4 – 1768 Presentation silver salver to the shipwright of Captain Cook’s Endeavour


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