In 1781, France invaded the Channel Island of Jersey. It was successfully defended by the British – an important victory at a time when they were failing in their war with America (American War of Independence) and about to lose control of their American colonies. This painting celebrates the victory and commemorates the death of Major Francis Peirson and his refusal to surrender.
The industrial revolution describes the dramatic and long-lasting change in Wales’s landscape and infrastructure during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. As innovations in steam power and the design of machinery developed and advanced, new factories, mines, railways and canals began to radically transform the landscape, manufacturing, and the way people lived and worked.
This entry includes graphic illustrations of war injuries which some may find upsetting.
This is a watercolour painting by Charles Bell, a British Army surgeon who helped to treat the wounded after the Battle of Waterloo. His haunting paintings are stark reminders of what early 19th century battle injuries were like. They are rare images executed by a practising surgeon and artist, which was an unusual combination. While his portraits powerfully show the agony and trauma experienced by these young men, they also describe their wounds with anatomical accuracy.
Thomas Muir was a radical, who campaigned for political reform in Scotland. He was eventually accused of sedition and transported to Australia, following one of the most notorious and controversial trials in Scottish history. He became known as the father of Scottish democracy and one of Scotland’s five ‘political martyrs’.
Angelica Kauffman was a successful and influential artist of the mid-late 1700s, and one of only two female founder members of the Royal Academy of Arts, in London in 1768. Despite also being a skilled portrait and landscape artist, she is remembered primarily for her success as a history painter. This was seen as the most elite category in academic painting at the time, and an unusual choice for a female artist.
JMW Turner is one of Britain’s best loved artists. He became known as the ‘painter of light’ due to his trademark style and use of colour in landscapes and seascapes. The Fighting Temeraire, one of his most famous oil paintings, shows the warship Temeraire being towed by a steam-powered tug on its last ever journey before being broken up. It is said to symbolise the decline of Britain’s naval power, the passing of the ‘glorious’ age of sail and the growth of ‘modern’ technology in an increasingly industrialised Britain. The industrial revolution and the history of the Royal Navy were therefore both saluted, through Turner’s revolutionary brand of romantic landscape painting.
Kevin Dalton Johnson’s Captured Africans is a memorial to enslaved Africans transported on ships originating out of Lancaster as part of the Transatlantic slave trade. It stands on St George’s Quay in Lancaster and was unveiled in 2005.
This print was one of over a thousand satires produced by the celebrated caricaturist, James Gillray, who became known as the ‘father of the political cartoon’. In the 18th century, cartoons and caricatures were a popular way of mocking the establishment and calling them to account. They would be discussed and enjoyed in shop windows, coffee houses and taverns. The arrival of the industrial printing press in the 1800s helped to spread them far and wide, through broadsides (posters), newspapers and pamphlets. This one was inspired by the resumed hostilities and ongoing rivalry between Britain and France in 1805.
This portrait shows the flamboyant and controversial figure Sir Banestre Tarleton, a cavalry officer best known as commander of the ‘Tarleton Raiders’ during the American war of independence. It was painted by Sir Joshua Reynolds, the leading British portrait painter of the 18th century. Reynolds was a founding member of the Royal Academy and its first President, and was knighted by King George III.
Jacques-Louis David (1748-1825) was the best-known painter of historical scenes of his generation. He was a strong supporter of the French Republic and effectively became its official artist. His painting, The Death of Marat, is one of the great propagandist images of the French Revolution.