View of the British Fleet Passing Cronberg Castle 30 March, 1801
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Overall: 44.3cm (17.8in) x 57cm (22.5in)
Provenance: The Parker Gallery, London.
Ink and grey wash on paper. Diagramatic battle plan titled ‘A View of the British Fleet Passing Cronberg Castle 30 March 1801’ with key to ships and commanders. Sheet: 35.5cm (14in) x 47cm (18.5in).
In 1801 the Royal Navy prepared for a pre-emptive strike against the Danish fleet at Copenhagen before the Danes could rally the support of her Swedish and Russian allies. To get to Copenhagen, the British would have to sail through the 4000 metre wide strait between Denmark and Sweden. Unfortunately the Danish side was covered by Cronberg aka Kronborg Castle – one of Europe’s mightiest fortresses. Somehow, the British had to slip through unscathed. On 30 March 1801 they weighed anchor and set sail, with Vice Admiral Lord Nelson leading the fleet.
As they sailed close to the more weakly defended Swedish side of the strait, the guns of Kronborg opened opened fire, which the British ships reciprocated. The air was thick with smoke, and thundered with the cacophony of cannon fire. Yet all the shots fell far short of their targets, and for whatever reason, the Swedish batteries declined to join the fight. The Royal Navy had passed the first major obstacle between them and their objective the Danish fleet.