~The Battle of the Nile ~ August 1, 1798~

After having spent most of his summer looking for Admiral Brueys’ Toulon fleet throughout the Western Mediterranean.
Rear Admiral Nelson and his fleet of ships came upon Breuys as the French lay at anchor in Aboukir Bay. Breuys ships had
just landed Napoleon’s army on their way to the conquest of Egypt and had settled into a well-protected anchorage. Nelson
sighted them in the late afternoon when only a few hours of daylight remained. Conventional tactics dictated that he wait
until the next day to attack. But once again Nelson proved anything but conventional. Surprising even his own captains he
ordered his ships to attack and thus began an engagement that lasted all night. The key moment in the Frenchmen’s eventual
defeat came at 10:00pm when their flagship, the gigantic 120-gun L’ORIENT blew up with a tremendous explosion. At dawn the
casualties numbered 4 French ships completely destroyed and nine badly damaged. The French had no choice but to surrender,
securing one of Britain’s greatest naval victories and catapulting Nelson to national hero status. In this set of meticulously
researched oil paintings each measuring 20” x 40”, Tim Thompson recreates the four decisive moments of the battle.

The Approach
Oil                20" x 40"
Within range of the battery of Fort Aboukir – HMS GOLIATH was the first British ship to engage the French fleet.
She’s seen here taking the full force of their initial fire. In the distance on the far right the French brigs ALLERTE and RAILEUR
are seen returning to port after unsuccessfully trying to lure the British ships onto Aboukir reef.

GOLIATH's Broadside
Oil                20" x 40"
Soon the rest of the British fleet was into the action. Here HMS GOLIATH is seen firing her own broadside
while behind her HMS ZEALOUS and Nelson’s flagship HMS VANGUARD are about to cross the French line consisting
of GUERRIER, CONQUERANT, SPARTIATE, AQUILON and 13 others. To the right a mortar ketch fires into the British fleet.

The Landward Side
Oil                20" x 40"
When the 74-gun HMS ORION (seen to the left of the fort) first fired it was at the smaller 36-gun frigate SERIEUSE.
Orion’s full double-shotted broadside dismasted her and shattered her hull—which soon sank her. To SERIEUSE’s left  is seen
the French frigate ARTEMISE, to Orion’s right HMS GOLIATH, ZEALOUS and THESEUS who is just rounding the French line.

L'ORIENT's Death Throes
Oil                20" x 40"
As the battle progressed and night fell, the British hoisted four lamps horizontally for identification. ORION is
seen here  with her lamps lit pounding the French 80-gun LE FRANKLIN. Astern, L’ORIENT is engulfed by flames.
Her spectacular explosion, whose flaming remnants set many other ships on fire, is just a matter of time.

Return to Tim Thompson thumbnails

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