Artist’s Own Copy - Boy Cornwell, V.C., at The Battle of Jutland, 1916
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Overall: 82cm (32in) x 44cm (17.3in)
Provenance: Frank O. Salisbury and by descent.
Lithograph, autograph signed. After Frank O. Salisbury's painting depicting Boy 1st Class John Travers Cornwell, V.C., at his post aboard H.M.S. Chester during the Battle of Jutland after the other members of his gun crew had been killed or wounded. Inscribed below the Book of Psalms quotation 'Thou hast set my feet in a large place’, over a facsimile signatures Edward Carson [First Lord of The Admiralty], Jutland admirals John Jellicoe and David Beatty to the left, and the pencil signature of the artist Frank O. Salisbury to the right, between a printed wreath and naval crown superimposed over a depiction of H.M.S. Chester, flanked by Beatty’s mention in the Jutland despatch of Boy Cornwell.
John 'Jack' Travers Cornwell, was the youngest First World War recipient of the Victoria Cross, and third youngest ever. He was a member of a forward 5.5-inch gun crew at the Battle of Jutland in 1916, with responsibility for calibrating the gun. Under heavy fire all the gun's crew lay dead or dying except for Jack who stayed at his post despite being severely wounded. He died two days later, aged sixteen. In September 1916 King George V presented Jack’s mother with his posthumous Victoria Cross. Cornwell’s devotion to duty was widely publicised. The National Memorial Fund with Admiralty assistance commissioned Frank Salisbury to produce his iconic painting which is now in the church at the Royal Navy training establishment H.M.S. Raleigh. An edition of original prints of which the present example was one, was produced by the Fine Arts Publishing Company. An example of this print in the Royal Collection (RCIN 751255) was exhibited in George V’s War Museum that was displayed at Windsor Castle until 1936. The official unveiling of the original painting at the Mansion House in the City of London in March 1917 was widely publicised and brought Salisbury to Royal notice. He was subsequently commissioned to paint ‘The King and Queen visiting the Battle Districts of France’ and ‘The Burial of the Unknown Warrior’ all confirming his appointment as the portrait painter to the establishment in the 1920s and 30s.