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Mezzotint - Admiral Baron Nelson of the Nile, 1800
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Mezzotint - Admiral Baron Nelson of the Nile, 1800

Measurements: Overall: 39.5cm (15.5in) x 32cm (12.5in)



Engraved by John Young (1755-1825) after Matthew Keymer. Published by Keymer, at Yarmouth, 8 December 1800, and inscribed lower left ‘Painted by H.M. Keymer, Yarmouth from a Portrait by a Celebrated Artist at Palermo, Portrait-Painter to the King.’; and lower right,  ‘Engraved by Jno, Young Engraver to His Rl Highs the Prince of Wales.’ Bearing the title ‘ Admiral Lord Nelson of the Nile’. Image 29cm x 24cm. Framed and glazed.
On a cold, wet winter’s day, 6 November 1800, Nelson and the Hamiltons landed at Great Yarmouth following an overland journey through Europe. Despite the rain Nelson received a rapturous welcome. Appearing on the balcony of an inn with Emma Hamilton in a dress embroidered with the words ‘Nelson’ and ‘Bronte’, he told the cheering throng ‘I am a Norfolk man, and glory in being so’. Amongst Sir William Hamilton’s baggage was Leonardo Guzzardi’s full-length portrait of Nelson that had been commissioned in Naples to celebrate his triumph at the Nile. It was hurriedly unpacked and widely admired. For reasons now unknown the only local artist of stature, Mathew Keymer, was summoned to execute a bust-length copy with all possible speed. Nelson, who was shortly to be whisked off to a service of thanksgiving and given the freedom of the town, was asked by the landlady of the Wrestlers Arms for his permission to rename her inn The Nelson Arms, causing the Admiral to retort that the change of name would be absurd as he only had one.

Nelson’s superstar status induced Mathew Keymer to capitalize on his hastily executed oil, and it was duly published in print form four weeks later. The present mezzotint by Young is thus a startlingly honest depiction of the naval hero that frankly depicts the toll of war by showing Nelson’s face as drawn while his cocked hat is angled to avoid contact with the wound over his right eye.

Several full and half length versions of Guzzardi’s original painting were produced, including one for the Sultan Selim III of Constantinople who present Nelson with the diamond set Chelengk in gratitute for the victory at the Nile. Both the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich and the National Portrait Gallery, London contain futher versions.