Portraiture and the British naval officer, 1739–1805

Gazzard, Katherine (2019) Portraiture and the British naval officer, 1739–1805. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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This thesis provides the first sustained study of the portraiture of eighteenth-century British naval officers, concentrating on the period between Edward Vernon’s capture of Porto Bello in 1739 and Horatio Nelson’s death at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. This period was punctuated by a series of major international conflicts, from which Britain emerged as the world’s leading maritime power, boasting a navy unrivalled in size and strength, a burgeoning empire and a celebrated cast of naval officers, many of whom became central protagonists in the nation’s social, political and cultural affairs. Whereas existing scholarship has tended to address naval officers’ portraits in relation to other forms of society portraiture, this thesis examines how such works responded to the unique characteristics of the sea officer’s profession, which required individuals to follow institutional codes and to acquire specialist professional knowledge, whilst also competing against one another for employment and promotion, confronting the dangers of shipwreck, disease and battle, and enduring lengthy separations from home and family. The commissioning, production, ownership, exchange, display and reproduction of naval portraits are explored in this thesis, revealing how the image of the naval officer was appropriated and manipulated to serve a range of personal, political and ideological agendas in an era which witnessed the birth of powerful new forms of celebrity and the development of modern notions of selfhood. Highlighting the variety, complexity and creativity of naval portraiture as a genre, this analysis provides new insights into the role that art can play in mediating between individual and institutional identities.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Art, Media and American Studies
Depositing User: Users 11011 not found.
Date Deposited: 17 Oct 2019 15:24
Last Modified: 17 Oct 2019 15:24
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/72674


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