New gallery at National Maritime Museum opens on Trafalgar Day

A new permanent gallery at the National Maritime Museum opens to the public on Trafalgar Day 2013, just after the inaugural Thames Trafalgar Race on the Thames, organised by Little Ship Club and Erith YC.

Taking visitors from the Glorious Revolution of 1688 to the defeat of Napoleon in 1815, 'Nelson, Navy, Nation' explores the Navy’s impact upon ordinary people while also providing a setting for the museum’s unrivalled collections relating to Admiral Lord Nelson. The gallery brings together over 250 objects from the Museum’s collections, including exceptional works of art such as Devis’s Death of Nelson and William Hogarth’s Captain Lord George Graham in his Cabin; little known treasures like Gabriel Bray’s shipboard watercolours; and iconic items such as Nelson’s uniform from the Battle of Trafalgar.
 
Taking in sailors as well as Admirals, landlubbers as well as seadogs, and ordinary life as well as the heat of battle, Nelson, Navy, Nation tells the story of the Royal Navy in the 18th century, and in doing so tells the story of how British people saw themselves, and their place in the world.

With the Thames Trafalgar Race finishing at Greenwich on Sunday, race entrants will have time to wash up before heading to the National Maritime Museum for the gallery's opening day on Monday 21 October.

 

Picture: 'Extirpation of the Plagues of Egypt; - Destruction of Revolutionary Crocodiles; - or - The British Hero cleansing ye mouth of ye Nile’, James Gillray; H. Humphrey, Published 6 October 1798


This is a simple but effective celebration of Nelson’s resounding victory over the French fleet at the Battle of the Nile on 1 August 1798. A colossal Nelson stands in the mouth of the river capturing and culling tri-coloured crocodiles. The biblical plagues of Egypt of the title are transformed into crocodiles, which stand in turn for the French ships taken or destroyed during the battle: one with flames issuing from its jaws evidently represents ‘L’Orient’, whose dramatic explosion was the focus of many contemporary paintings and prints of the battle. This print shows Nelson, in line with contemporary newspaper reports, as the unqualified British hero, a modern demi-god, combining Moses with Hercules.