(1758 – 1805)
Nelson's victories during the Napoleonic wars with France gripped the popular imagination, making him the most enduring of British heroes. On the outbreak of war, in 1793, he lost an eye in a successful attack on Corsica. His strategic brilliance was confirmed at the Battle of Cape St. Vincent (1797) and the Battle of the Nile (1798). This was followed by the great controversy of Nelson's career when, because of his passion for Emma Hamilton, he refused to leave Naples to defend Minorca.
Sir William Beechey's sketch was made for a larger full-length painting and captures the proud resolve of Nelson's last engagement, which was his greatest victory. Nelson was killed by a sniper while destroying the combined French and Spanish fleets at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.
By Sir William Beechey (1753 – 1839)
Oil on canvas, 1800
National Portrait Gallery, London
© National Portrait Gallery, London