Destruction by Night of the Spanish Batteries Before Gibraltar

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Thomas Whitcombe (English, ca. 1752–ca. 1824)
Destruction by Night of the Spanish Batteries Before Gibraltar, 1783
Oil on canvas
36 3/8 × 60 5/8 in. (92.39 × 153.99 cm)
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. R. V. Krikorian M1981.161
Photo credit: John R. Glembin
Currently on View

This dramatic scene shows the pivotal moment in the furious Spanish assault on the British stronghold on the island of Gibraltar. The Spanish had attacked the British fort from a floating battery they had constructed from old warships. Here, the tide of the nocturnal battle has shifted, and the British are winning the day—even rowing in to save the drowning Spanish soldiers from their burning vessels. This patriotic painting was the very first work that Thomas Whitcombe, a prolific marine painter, ever exhibited at the Royal Academy, in 1783.

Publication History
Harrington, Peter. British Artists and War: The Face of Battle in Paintings and Prints, 1700–1914. London: Greenhill Books, and Pennsylvania: Stackpole Books in Association with Brown University Library, Rhode Island, 1993, p. 47, b/w illus.

Bryan's Dictionary of Painters & Engravers V. 5. London: George Bell & Sons, and The New York Macmillian Company, 1905, p.?.
Exhibition History
Reproduction included in Gibraltar Paintings: Destruction of the Floating Batteries, 13/14 September 1782, Guildhall Art Gallery, London, fall 2000.

Naval and Fisheries Exhibition, Earls Court, London, 1887.

Royal Academy, 1783.


This information is subject to change as the result of ongoing research.