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By 1800, de Loutherbourg was celebrated for his dramatic depictions of maritime disasters and sea battles. The subject here is the decisive moment in the battle of Camperdown, off the Dutch coast, in 1797.
A British fleet defeated the Dutch, who were then allied with the French. The flagship Venerable fires its last broadside at the Dutch Vryhied. Loutherbourg, who was chief designer of scenery at the Drury Lane Theatre, was more concerned with dramatic effect than documentation. His picture was said to express ‘the horror and devastation attendant upon a conflict disputed with such obstinate bravery’.

March 2010