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Wright, Joseph, of Derby (attributed to)
A View of Gibraltar during the Destruction of the Spanish Floating Batteries, on the 13th of September, 1782 A View of Gibraltar during the Destruction of the Spanish Floating Batteries, on the 13th of September, 1782
1784 1784

This painting depicts a stunning British military victory that came in the wake of the humbling loss of the American colonies. On 12 September 1782 Spanish and French naval forces mounted a massive naval bombardment of the British Garrison on Gibraltar, blockaded by land and sea since 1779. The naval forces used special floating artillery batteries designed to survive cannon fire, but they succumbed to the British capacity to deliver a high volume of red-hot shot with great accuracy, setting the batteries afire. The focus of this painting, however, is not on the battle itself but on the British rescue of the Spanish and French naval crews. When the British gunboats led by Captain Roger Curtis moved in on the burning hulks, it became clear that the hapless crews had been left to their fate. In response, Captain Curtis ordered a humanitarian rescue effort, which he was then forced to call off after the batteries began to explode as the fire reached their powder magazines and British casualties were sustained. In the present canvas, Captain Curtis appears to the lower right leading an advance of several gunboats toward the burning batteries scattered in the distance, the closest looming at the left edge. The fortifications of Gibraltar, complete with the long sea wall and the stairway leading to the old citadel, come into sight behind Captain Curtis and his entourage, as does the Rock of Gibraltar. White puffs of cannon smoke lie low over the water, while blackish clouds from the burning vessels rise above into the sky.

 
Wright, Joseph, of Derby (attributed to)
Derby, England 1734–Derby, England 1797 Derby, England 1734–Derby, England 1797
A View of Gibraltar during the Destruction of the Spanish Floating Batteries, on the 13th of September, 1782 A View of Gibraltar during the Destruction of the Spanish Floating Batteries, on the 13th of September, 1782
1784 1784
Oil on canvas Oil on canvas
height / width: 161.5 cm x 235.4 cm
Gift of Alfred and Isabel Bader, 2001 Gift of Alfred and Isabel Bader, 2001
44-014

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