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British or French Three-decker 100 Gun Warship with Admiral’s Barge alongside

British or French Three-decker 100 Gun Warship with Admiral’s Barge alongside, 1795-1815
Prisoner of War Model
Great Britain, probably made by French sailors
bone, horn, paper, silk, brass
model: 27.0 x 37.0 x 8.5 cm
The Thomson Collection © Art Gallery of Ontario

The Thomson Collection of Ship Models Audio Tour

‹ Previous | Track #16

Download: 2:19 min / 916 KB MP3

Simon Stephens: Another interesting group or style of POW work is mounting these models in a waterline, what we call a waterline base. Now this example here in front of us is a full hull model, but it’s then been set into a waterline base, a wooden base, which has then been painted.

It’s almost in a way theatrical in some ways because it's actually illustrating an event. You’ve got a very high ranking officer coming alongside in a barge, being taken on board the ship. The sailors are standing up in the barge with their oars tossed, which is a form of salute. The officer would go up the companion way and come on board the ship.

Now if you look closely at this model, you’ll see it's absolutely bedecked in these small figures. You also get an idea of scale, which is interesting.

It basically represents a two decker, 74 gun warship. It could be French or British, which is typical prisoner of war style then incorporated by both the British and French features on these models.

This one is fully rigged and is shown at anchor as well. And there were a number of boats alongside, the long boats as well, which had been manned by sailors.

This model is also displayed in its original display case. Just as an example of the sort of cases that were made at the time in the 19th century to actually keep these models from being damaged more than anything as a furniture piece.

If you look closely at this model you can see how it’s been made. If you look along the hull you can see a series of pin lines. So these bone planks were pinned to a series of frames, wooden frames within the model, the carcass.

It’s also rigged with brass guns, but probably the most important feature about this model is the fact that it has its original sails. This is extremely rare to find a model of this age and also with this scale and detail with original sails.

Obviously making models at this scale and rigging them is extremely difficult. So they would use for the rigging single or separate strands of silk. Or the other material that they would use was human or horse hair.

All of those are extremely fragile and they get worse over time, as you can imagine. So it’s very difficult to repair, to install on these models, especially at this scale. So to have a model in this condition is extremely rare.

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