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Maps, views and documents from 19 wars

Josiah Boydell (18 January 1752-27 March 1817)

San Salvador, 1812

DEDICATED BY PERMISSION TO THE RIGHT HONOURABLE THE LORDS COMMISSIONERS OF THE ADMIRALTY. / Plate 3.rd The JAVA totally dismasted endeavouring to Wear by the assistance of a Jury Staysail hoisted to the Stump of the Foremast... published 1 Jan 1814

Aquatint with etching and engraving; printed on paper; laid down on paper, the paper backing brought round the edges of the recto | 39.2 x 45.3 cm (image) | RCIN 735179.c

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A view of the action between the USS Constitution, commanded by Commodore Wiliam Bainbridge (1774-1833) and HMS Java, commanded by Captain Henry Lambert, R.N. (d.1813) at 17.05 hours on 29 September 1812 off Salvador, on the east coast of Brazil resulting in the surrender and burning of the British ship. War of 1812

The three-hour action between the Java and the Constitution was an uneven contest between the small British 38-gun fifth rate frigate and the larger, heavier, 44-gun American 'super frigate'.

This view shows the final stage in the engagement, at the point where the Constitution had manoeuvred into a raking position, preparatory to the final onslaught of cannon, when Lieutenant Lambert decided to strike his colours and surrender. The title of this print gives the time of surrender as 17.50, which is consistent with Lieutenant Chads's report. The log of the Constitution records, at '5.25 Got very close to the enemy in a very rakeing position, athwart his bows & was at the very instance of rakeing him, when he most prudently Struck his Flag'.

The original drawing for this print was made by Lieutenant Buchanan, R.N., an officer on board the Java, who was praised by first Lieutenant Henry Ducie Chads (later Sir Henry; Rear-Admiral; 1788-1868), who took over when Captain Lambert was mortally wounded. Chads said that he 'can never speak too highly' of Buchanan and the other officers.

The character of Henry Lambert appears in Patrick O'Brian's Fortune of War in which the real life story of Lambert's death on the Java is told.

Proof copy. The upper-case lettering in the title is engraved in outline. One of a set of four aquatints; the companion prints are at RCINs 735179.a, b and d.

  • Creator(s)

    Alexander Buchanan (b. 1793) (artist)

    Nicholas Pocock (1740-1821) (draughtsman)

    Nicholas Pocock (1740-1821) (etcher) [[bottom left, below edge of view:] Drawn & Etch'd by N. Pocock, from a Sketch by Lieut. Buchanan.]

    Robert Havell (1769-1832) (engraver)

    Daniel Havell (d. 1826) (engraver) [[bottom right, below edge of view:] Engraved by R, & D, Havell.]

    Colnaghi & Co. : Cockspur Street (publisher)

    Boydell: 90 Cheapside & Shakspeare Gallery, Pall Mall, London (John Boydell (19 January 1720-12 December 1804) and Josiah Boydell (18 January 1752-27 March 1817)) (publisher) [[bottom centre, below title:] Jan,y 1, 1814, Publish'd by Mess,rs Boydell & C,o N,o 90 Cheapside, and Colnaghi & C,o Cockspur Street, London.]

    Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty (dedicatee)

  • Watermark: None visible

    Condition: no fold lines. Verso: brown discolouration

  • 35.3 x 45.3 cm (neatline)

    39.2 x 45.3 cm (image)

    41.0 x 52.8 cm (platemark)

    43.6 x 55.3 cm (sheet)

  • Printed title:

    DEDICATED BY PERMISSION TO THE RIGHT HONOURABLE THE LORDS COMMISSIONERS OF THE ADMIRALTY. / Plate 3.rd The JAVA totally dismasted endeavouring to Wear by the assistance of a Jury Staysail hoisted to the Stump of the Foremast & Bowsprit; / the CONSTUTITION Crossing her Bow in a Raking Position, compels her to Surrender at 50 Min: past 5. [bottom, below view]

    Additional text:

    [bottom left, faintly engraved:] Proof [bottom left, between 'Proof' and title, a note of the number of guns and men and weight of metal of the English Force.] [Bottom right, right of title, a note of the number of guns and men and weight of metal of the American Force.]

    Annotations:

    (Recto) [bottom left, black pencil:] XV-179-c. (Verso) [bottom left, black pencil, in Evelyn Heaton-Smith's hand]: 228.a; [centre, black pencil:] 43; [centre and top right, black pencil, obscured by paper backing:] 43.

    George III catalogue entry:

    Naval Engagement Four Views of the Action between H.M. Frigate Java, Captain Lambert, and the American Frigate, Constitution, on the 29.th of Dec.r 1812: by Pocock and Havell from a sketch by Lieut. Buchannan, published by Boydell, 1814.

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

  • Subject(s)

    Salvador, Bahia, Brazil (12°58'16"S 38°30'39"W)

  • Bibliographic reference(s)

    US Department of the Navy - Naval History and Heritage Command: Selected naval documents: USS Constitution, 'Journal of Commodore William Bainbridge': American National Archives, Record Group 45, Captain's Letters, 1813, Vol.1, No.8 1/2 and British TNA Admiralty 1/5435.

    W. James, The Naval History of Great Britain, from the Declaration of War by France in 1793, to the Accession of George IV. A new edition, with additions and notes, 6 vols, London, 1837, VI, pp.126-33.

    J.K. Laughton, 'Chads, Sir Henry Ducie (1788–1868)', Dictionary of National Biography, 2004; online edition 2008.

    J.K. Laughton, 'Lambert, Henry (d. 1813)', Dictionary of National Biography, 2004.

    H. Parker, Naval battles from the collection of prints formed and owned by Commander Sir Charles Leopold Cust,  With an introduction by C.N. Robinson, London, 1911, no.228.a

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