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The Battle of the Doggers Bank, 5 August 1781

Thomas Luny, The Battle of the Doggers Bank, 5 August 1781, oil on canvas, 546 mm x 863 mm, dated 1781. National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London

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The British artist Thomas Luny (1758-1837) is best known for his marine paintings, which, though often sombre, show great skill in technique and execution. The action referred to in this painting is a confrontation between a British convoy homeward bound from the Baltic and a Dutch convoy. The British commander Hyde Parker ordered the British merchantmen to continue their voyage home, whilst he ran down on the Dutch with his battle-ships. In the centre of the picture is the Dutch flagship, the ‘Admiral de Ruijter’, surrounded by British and Dutch ships. The artist has focused the spectator’s attention to the middle ground using the reflection of light on the surface of the water, keeping the foreground and the sides of the composition in the shade created by clouds in the sky. He thereby gives the image a sense of spatial depth.

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