Admiral Lord Nelson - Chromolithograph Portrait after Lemuel Abbott, 1912
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Overall: 77cm (30.3in) x 61.5cm (24.2in)
Chromolithograph print on paper after Lemuel Francis Abbott’s portrait of 1797. Published by the Medici Society (est. 1908), London in 1912. Contained in a period oak frame carved with victors’ laurels to the left and English oak leaves to the right, a motto scroll in base inscribed with the with Hero’s last words ‘Thank God I have done my duty’ and the Battle of Trafalgar date ‘1805,' the whole surmounted by a viscount’s coronet.
An oak framed copy of this chromolithograph of Abbott’s iconic image hangs aboard the Royal Yacht Britannia. As a subject for a popular print, Abbott’s portrait fulfilled the requirements of the Medici Society’s founders, Philip Lee-Warner and Eustace Gurney, to publish high-quality colour reproductions of old master paintings and modern works intended for framing in domestic interiors. The Medici Society initially operated as a subscription only business, but later became a limited company. Eustace and Gurney donated a copy of the 1912 print to the National Portrait Gallery (NPG D38494).
Lemuel Francis Abbott (1760-1803) painted many portraits of Nelson but this is perhaps the most widely recognised of the whole Nelson iconography. The original version was painted while the two men were living at the same Bond Street lodging house. It depicts Nelson in Rear-Admiral's uniform wearing the star and sash of the Bath and the Naval Gold Medal awarded for his victory at the Battle of St Vincent (1797). The original was painted for Captain Locker of the Greenwich Hospital. Abbott subsequently copied the picture over forty times. The copies gradually declined in quality as the artist became mentally ill. Many were purchased by Nelson's naval colleagues, his family and friends. In July 1798, Nelson's wife wrote to him: 'My dearest Husband - I am now writing opposite to your portrait, the likeness is great. I am well-satisfied with Abbott… it is my companion, my sincere friend in your absence’.