Home  >  Antiques  > Historically Important. War of 1812. Folk Art Portrait of Famous American Naval Captain James Lawrence.....SOLD
Historically Important. War of 1812. Folk Art Portrait of Famous American Naval Captain James Lawrence.....SOLD
Northeastern, ca. 1815. Watercolor and ink on wove paper. Painted during a time when American’s were extremely patriotic and proud of their young country, and heroes were often the subject of art. James Lawrence was one of those heroes. His command, the frigate Chesapeake, left Boston on June 1, 1813 and immediately attacked the blockading Royal Navy frigate Shannon. During a fierce battle, the British disabled the Chesapeake. In the less than fifteen minutes of fighting, 228 men were killed or wounded in the bloodiest frigate action of the War of 1812. Captain Lawrence, mortally wounded, ordered repeatedly his famous command, “DON’T GIVE UP THE SHIP. Fight her till she sinks” and “Tell them to fire faster, don’t give up the ship.” Yet the Chesapeake was lost to a British boarding party. Friend and fellow officer Oliver Hazard Perry honored Lawrence with a large battle ensign, stitched with the phrase "DONT GIVE UP THE SHIP". Lawrence was so famous in his day that many streets, counties, cities, and naval ships are named after him. The portrait is an exceptional folk art treasure, retaining rich, saturated colors, and like a window into the feelings of that period. Lawrence is in full-dress uniform with bold gilt mounts and epaulets. He is encircled in a laurel wreath (a mark of honor), his likeness supported by crossed American flags, eagle with shield, a canon, sword, and bayonet. He grasps a highly stylized map, with compass in the upper right, the compass upside down (perhaps symbolizing distress). A water stain on the right does not impact the painted image. Presented in a later gilt-glassed shadowbox which appears to house the original black painted frame. Captioned “Capitaine Larence” and signed lower right “Fredric ___spel pinxt (painted by). Overall frame size about 13 x 11 inches. See http://blog.nyhistory.org/dont-give-up-the-ship/ for a detailed description of the battle. Private Northeast collection. .
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