"Embarquement de Bonaparte À Bord du Bellerophon"
Etching by Jean-Jérôme Baugéan (1764-1819)
With contemporary hand-colouring
Published by 'Palmer', London
30 cm high x 40 cm wide
Private Collection Portsmouth, Hampshire, U.K.
A scarce contemporary print depicting Napoleon boarding H.M.S. Bellerophon on 15 July 1815 in order to surrender to Captain Frederick Lewis Maitland.
Dominating the composition is Bellerophon's stern with her glazed quarter galleries facing the viewer, her name is emblazoned above the rudder, ensign rippling in the wind from her rigging. The small figure of Napoleon in his districtive bicorn hat is mounting a ladder from the ship's barge in the centre of the image, whilst an expectant crowd looks on from the deck above. The oars on the barge have been raised so that it can pull-up alongside. To the right of the ship, the same barge is seen in two different positions en route from the French brig ‘L’Epervier’ (shown far right) which had carried Napoleon into Basque Roads from the island of Aix. The French coastline is shown in the distance on the horizon.
H.M.S. Bellerophon, referred to affectionately by sailors as "The Billy Ruffian", was a third-rate of 74 guns, launched in 1786. She had served with great distinction during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, including in three major fleet actions: the Glorious First of June (1794), the Battle of the Nile (1798) and the Battle of Trafalgar (1805) (where she was in the thick of the fighting and sustained casualties of 123 wounded and 27 killed (including John Cooke her Captain)). By 1815 she was battle scarred and patched and on duty as a blockade vessel.
The French ‘L’Epervier’ is shown flying a white flag from her gaff and a Union flag from her foretop. All contemporary written sources agree in her having borne a flag of truce at this moment, and whilst the Union flag goes unmentioned, it was presumably raised as a matter of routine protocol relating to a British officer being on board during Napoleon’s handover (and thus unremarkable).
Baugéan painted contemporary historical subjects but is, perhaps, best known for his marine prints. Working in Italy and in his native Marseille, he knew a great deal about boats of all shapes and sizes and published various maritime engravings.
Very scarce. For a rather ruinous uncoloured copy see British Museum 1891.1116.179. For better, though also uncoloured, copies see National Marine Museum PAH0748; Royal Collection RCIN 770150 and Baltimore Museum of Art 1946.112.10786. See Bibliothèque nationale de France G165477 for an impression before full text.
Trimmed to the image on three sides. Two lines of text and 'Palmer' publication line lost to bottom. Touched in chips to top right and bottom left.
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