Admiral Sir Horatio Nelson

Admiral Sir Horatio Nelson

Open edition print

559 x 660 mm

One of the most famous of all portraits of Lord Nelson, this picture by Lemuel Francis Abbott shows him as a hero in the full glory of his military decorations. The original picture hangs in Britain’s National Maritime Museum at Greenwich.

With a chestful of gold medals and a spectacular “chelengk” in his hat (a plume of triumph with 13 diamond-encrusted sprays representing the French ships at the Battle of Nile set around a rotating central diamond, given by the Turkish Sultan) Nelson – the superstar of his day – cut a dashing but odd and somewhat controversial figure,, as decorations were not as usual in military life as we they are today. Some other naval officers derided him for wearing them.

Dr. Colin White, the renowned Nelsonian scholar and author of The Nelson A to Z, notes that by the end of his life Nelson was entitled to wear the stars of four orders of knighthood and two official gold medals seen here on ribbons around his neck – the King's Naval Gold Medals for the Battles of Cape St Vincent and the Nile, which were among the first British named campaign medals ever issued, rare and very highly prized.

Nelson’s wore his stars on his left breast – the premier decoration was the star of the Order of the Bath, a high British decoration. The other three stars were all unusual – the King of Naples gave Nelson and his Nile captains the specially created Order of St Ferdinand and Merit (a non-Catholic order of knighthood) while for the same battle The Sultan of Turkey gave Nelson the special, new and non-Muslim Order of the Crescent. The Order of St Joachim was a private German order of chivalry.

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