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Napoleonic French Prisoner-of-war boxwood and ebony model of the 120-Gun First-Rate-Ship-Of-The-Line “L’Ocean”

Napoleonic French Prisoner-of-war boxwood and ebony model of the 120-Gun First-Rate-Ship-Of-The-Line “L’Ocean”
The Thomson Collection © Art Gallery of Ontario

The Thomson Collection of Ship Models Audio Tour

Download: 1:47 min / 716 KB MP3

Simon Stephens: As POW models go, I would describe this model as pretty exceptional. This is not your typical POW model. Both in terms of the detail, its size, and the quality of craftsmanship, it's really quite astounding.

I think we’ve come to believe now that towards the end of the war, the Napoleonic War, and also after the war, there were model makers still making models of this quality still in the UK, selling them to interested people or people who had commissioned them.

And I think this is a classic example of that – the model of the Ocean, a three-decker, a French three decker, which is fully planked, complete with brass guns, and fully rigged as well. Bearing in mind the scale of the model, the detail and quality of craftsmanship is really quite outstanding.

If we just look at the figurehead alone, that's been carved in bone and shows a male figure pouring water from a vessel from under his arm. The anchors, the detail of the anchors, are quite exquisite, showing them fished and ready to be dropped. As well as rigged up into the channels and stowed.

An interesting thing about this model is that this is probably more accurate than most POW models as it does show a typical French vessel and is a fairly accurate representation of the Ocean. Proportionally it’s correct, the decoration is French, and a lot of the features on deck are largely French as well.

So this is rather unusual. This is much more an accurate representation in the sort of POW style, as we call it.

It’s also complete with a 19th century display case, which again has clearly been made for this model. It’s been designed around this model to fit the rigging, and is in wonderful condition, and again is a rare example of an early display case with its model.

Art of the Day

December 5, 2008

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