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Views of naval engagements and maps of battles

Edward Orme (1775-1848)

Scheldt estuary and Antwerp, 1809

Pictural Plan of the grand EXPEDITION, in the WEST SCHELDT, Aug.t 1809; / shewing the difficulty of approach to Antwerp published 12 Oct 1809

Aquatint with etching and engraving; printed on paper; hand coloured | 31.1 x 23.5 cm (image) | RCIN 735152

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A high oblique view of the Scheldt between Bath and Antwerp showing the British combined operations on the expedition to Walcheren, and the situation of the French navy, August 1809. Napoleonic Wars (1803-15).

The artist of this view is recorded on the print simply as 'Cap.n Cockburn'. There were at least two Captain Cockburns who were present on the Walcheren expedition; there is no evidence, as yet, to suggest that they were related. The first, Captain George Cockburn R.N. (1772-1853, and later F.R.S. and Admiral of the Fleet Sir George Cockburn, 8th Baronet), commanded the Belleisle and a division of bomb and gun vessels. The second was Captain James Pattison Cockburn R.A. (1779-1847, later Director, from 1838, of the Royal Laboratory at Woolwich). James Pattison Cockburn, although born in New York City, had been schooled at the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich, where he was taught landscape drawing by the noted watercolour artist Paul Sandby (1731-1809). J.P. Cockburn went on to produce several pictures of military subjects, such as the five aquatinted views of the siege of Copenhagen (1807), etc. This 'pictural' view of the Scheldt has been attributed to him by Tracey (2007) and in the entry in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online, although the reference there to his part in the 'surrender' of Antwerp during the siege must refer to the surrender of Flushing which was the only achievement of the expedition.

The port of Flushing, ceded to France by treaty, was used to float the big French 80-gun ships which could not be moored at Antwerp. Thus the entire entrance to the Scheldt, as well as the river as far as Antwerp, was in the possession of France. The British naval expedition to the Scheldt, tasked with the destruction of the French fleet and arsenals, and the seizing of Antwerp and Flushing, comprised 264 vessels of war, accompanied by about 352 transports, many of which are seen in this view. Commanded by Rear-Admiral Sir Richard John Strachan (1760-1828; 4th baronet), they were accompanied by about 44,000 troops under the command of Lieutenant-General John Pitt, 2nd Earl of Chatham (1756-1835). The expedition was ill planned and resulted in failure, except for the capture of Flushing.

This high oblique view is taken from a point above the River Scheldt at about present-day Bath in Zeeland (51°24'06"N 04°12'35"E), about 50-60 km upstream of Flushing, looking south-east towards the boom across the river at Lillo Fort (51°18'15"N 04°17'24"E), with Antwerp (51°13'11"N 04°25'12"E) in the distance. Antwerp, the base for the French ships of the line, is seen in the background, with eight French ships moored in front of it.

  • Edward Orme (1775-1848) (publisher) [bottom centre, above title, below edge of view:] Pub.d Oct.r 12. 1809, by Edw.d Orme, London. / Bond Street corner of Brook Street.

    ? James Pattison Cockburn (1779-1847) (artist) [bottom left, below edge of view:] Capt.n Cockburn del.t

    John Heaviside Clark (c. 1771-1863) (etcher) [bottom right, below edge of view:] Clark etched.

  • Watermark: None visible

    Condition: no fold lines. Verso: induced discolouration

  • 28.7 x 21.8 cm (neatline)

    31.1 x 23.5 cm (image)

    34.0 x 25.0 cm (platemark)

    43.7 x 32.5 cm (sheet)

  • Printed title:

    Pictural Plan of the grand EXPEDITION, in the WEST SCHELDT, Aug.t 1809; / shewing the difficulty of approach to Antwerp. [bottom, below view]

    Additional text:

    [the names of places, positions of the British Squadrons, etc., are engraved in the appropriate places around the border, according to the positions of the objects being described.] [Bottom right, below title:] Price 5.s Col.d


    George III heading: Schelde August 1809.

    Other annotations: (Recto) none. (Verso) [bottom right, black pencil: ‘g’ or ‘9’].

    George III catalogue entry:

    Schelde Pictural Plan of the Grand Expedition in the West Scheldt in August 1809, shewing the difficulty of the Approach to Antwerp: by Captain Cockburn, engraved by Clark, and published by Orme, 1809.

  • From the collection of military and naval maps and prints formed by George III (1738-1820)

  • Subject(s)

    Westerschelde, Netherlands (51°24'06"N 04°12'35"E - 51°13'11"N 04°24'12"E)

    Antwerp, Flanders, Belgium (51°13'11"N 04°25'12"E)

  • Bibliographic reference(s)

    H.M. Chichester, 'Cockburn, James Pattison (1779–1847)', Dictionary of National Biography, 2004

    C. de W. Crookshank, Prints of British Military Operations: a cat. raisonné with historical descriptions covering the period from...Abyssinia, London, 1922, no.48, p.45

    C. Doorne, 'Pitt, John, second earl of Chatham (1756–1835)', Dictionary of National Biography, 2004; online edition 2008

    L. Herrmann, 'Sandby, Paul (bap. 1731, d. 1809)', Dictionary of National Biography, 2004; online edition 2006

    J.K. Laughton, 'Cockburn, Sir George, eighth baronet (1772–1853)', Dictionary of National Biography, 2004

    J.K. Laughton, 'Strachan, Sir Richard John, fourth baronet (1760–1828)', Dictionary of National Biography, 2004; online edition 2008

    D. Prioul, 'James Pattison Cockburn', Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online


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