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Gibraltar, Nelson, HMS Minerve, HMS Captain, Laperouse and riddles

Gibraltar, Nelson, HMS Minerve, HMS Captain is beginning to reveal how the final marine painting will look.

There have been some significant developments in this marine painting  including Gordon Frickers is able to be the first, here to show  some results of collaboration, new research into the quality of the bright yellow preferred by Nelson on his ships, more on that below…Gib_06.03.10_IMG_6964_d.jpg

This new marine painting is beginning to come to life with the basic structure now complete.

The ships are anchoured and moored much as they would have been following research into the original charts of the time by the artist with special thanks to the staff of H.M. Hydrographic Office Taunton for their very generous welcome and full co operation. Gib_chart_1_a_d.JPG

Still to be added, many more people, the port of Gibraltar we can safely guess,  was a busy place in Nelson’s day?

The sea still needs much work, the artist’s intention being to show a calm sea with a S W swell entering the bay, the wind having backed to a light N.E. breeze.

The harbour is yet to be populated with numerous busy small craft some under sail others under oar including some of distinctively Mediterranean types.

Plus if you used the pop up facility clicking on the picture above, I doubt if the facts escaped your notice re the lack of rigging on the ships show? Bot_Bay___Gib_layouts.JPG


Following research by Peter Goodwin, Keeper and Curator of HMS Victory and author of much merit, a “recipe” was found recently in a letter from Horatio Nelson for the mix of Nelson’s bright yellow.

We may be seeing the correct colour for the first time since living memory; which means the ship Victory may have her stripes repainted.

You may be aware, following the dry docking of the then rather rotten HMS Victory and her first 20th century major overhaul in 1921/2 (partly paid for by the excellent Society of Nautical Research) HMS Victory had her white “Victorian Navy” stripes painted bright yellow because the people of the time referred to her bright yellow warlike stripes.

Fine except bright yellow in 1922 was a chrome yellow not available until about 1820 by which time you may have already deduced, Horatio Nelson had had his last day…

During the 1990’s and following a long discussion between this artist and Peter Goodwin on the origins and nature of paint, not as anorak ish as it first sounds because this was to influence a sight seen by a million plus visitors to HM Historic Dockyard Portsmouth per year,  Peter was eventually able to convince the authorities and experts that  they used the wrong yellow.

Peter is a very remarkable man who has to deal with ministries, government departments, old guard, know alls, jobworths etc.

How he does that is a story in its self!

Happily he does have some first rate colleagues who given sufficient evidence will support his some times “radical” discoveries and requests.

HMS Victory may be in for another repaint soon, can you guess why?

I’d had a problem with this yellow business for a long time.

I’d noticed a remark of Nelson’s which requested his captains immediately before Trafalgar to paint the bands on their masts black to distinguish their ships (in the smoke and confusion of battle ) from the French who guess what, had white masts

Now why would Nelson write that if the mast of the British fleet were yellow?

I have not yet spoken again with Peter about this side issue given his latest discover re the yellow used but I have a theory for Peter…


The change of subject for the original sketch was suggested by Chris Boddington after he saw a Gordon Frickers original sketch in 2009.

The original sketch that inspired this marine painting was drawn one evening in 1998 in the lounge of the Royal Plymouth Corinthian Yacht Club where incidentally there are two fine original examples of Gordon Frickers marine art in that lounge commissioned by and owned by the club.

The original sketch was exploring ideas for a scene during the voyage of the French explorer, navigator and discoverer, Laperouse.

In particular his visit to Botany Bay, Australia, a subject I am soon to return to having recently completed much extensive research and become a member last year of L’Association Laperouse, which is based on Laperouse home town of Albi in S W France…