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H.M.S. Thunderer - The British Lion Asleep and Awake & Roaring, 1840
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H.M.S. Thunderer - The British Lion Asleep and Awake & Roaring, 1840

Measurements: Overall: 28cm (10.75in) x 27cm (11in)

£475

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Lithograph and watercolour on paper. A transformation print featuring the recumbent British lion transforming into H.M.S. Thunderer in a naval engagement. Entitled ’Spooner's Transformations. No. 11,' 'The British Lion Asleep and the British Lion Awake & Roaring.' Image 13cm (5in) x 16cm (6.5in).

Prints of this type would have been placed in a polyorama panoptique - an an optical gadget that resembled a small version of an eighteenth-century peepshow box. It was developed by specialist publisher William Spooner (fl.1833-47) who originally produced novelty prints with moveable parts such as tabs, flaps, or rotating wheels, to transform the principal image. This transformation print features the British lion asleep under the watchful gaze of a lurking bear, no doubt a reference to the political and diplomatic confrontation between the British Empire and the Russian Empire over Afghanistan and neighbouring territories in Central and Southern Asia. The transformation of the print when placed in front of a strong light features H.M.S. Thunderer, a 74-gun third rate ship-of-the-line of the Nelson era, and potent reminder of Victorian Britain’s hard won naval supremacy. Thunderer’s career included the fleet actions of the Glorious First of June 1794, the Battle of Cape Finistere and Trafalgar where her surgeon was the first man in the the main British battle fleet to sight the Franco-Spanish fleet. Thunderer signalled H.M.S. Victory and three minutes later battle orders were signalled to the fleet beginning the Battle of Trafalgar.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         
 

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