Battle between the Shannon and the Chesapeake

Special Ships

Shannon and Chesapeake

Painting of HMS Shannon and USS Chesapeake

H.M.S. Shannon and U.S.S. Chesapeake

Artist's Note

On 18th June 1812, the United States declared war on Great Britain and I have found many interesting incidents from this brief period, which over the years, I have attempted to portray on canvas. Amongst these incidents included the action between the US Constitution and HMS Guerrière, US Wasp and HM Frolic, Constitution and Java etc. These were notable successes for the fledgling US navy and shocking failures for the British. Towards the end of this tragic war, there was a particularly noteworthy British success.

Painting of HMS Shannon and USS Chesapeake

H.M.S. Shannon and U.S.S. Chesapeake

The Four Paintings

The earliest of the four paintings dates from 1973/4. The two black and white images, taken from Rackhams' sale catalogue for their Annual Exhibition in Birmingham, were exhibited as a pair. The paintings 16" x 20", oil on canvas, showed two distinct phases of the action.

The top illustration shows the Chesapeake ranging up broadside to broadside, at less than 50 yards off Shannon's starboard beam, 5.51 pm approx.

The second illustration shows the Chesapeake making stern board and about to collide with the Shannon at approx. 5.55 pm.

Painting of HMS Shannon and USS Chesapeake

Duel off Cape Ann

The third, much larger canvas, 24" x 36", was exhibited at the Royal Society of Marine Artists' Annual Exhibition, Mall Gallery, London 1983. The composition is similar to one of the earlier canvases.
"A superb picture by Robin Brooks, with gun flashes and smoke, particularly striking"
James A Farden, Alexander Galleries.

Sold by Alexander Galleries and thus to a private collector.

This painting appeared on the front cover of Sea History, the magazine of the National Maritime Historical Society, New York, Summer 1998.

Painting of HMS Shannon and USS Chesapeake

Don't give up the ship - H.M.S. Shannon and U.S.S. Chesapeake

The fourth canvas painted in 1993/4, oil on canvas, 16" x 20", was exhibited at Gallerie Marine, Appledore, then at Harrods picture gallery and thus to a private collector. Note: In this latter canvas, the artist has depicted the Chesapeake with a narrow buff band, extending from the figurehead just below the gun ports, running aft. Some authorities have suggested that the ship was so painted at this time.

Flag from the Chesapeake

Fragment of the ensign of the US Chesapeake
Stars and Stripes, US Flag, 1795-1818
The Stars and Stripes, 1795 - 1818 pattern.

These two illustrations come from Timothy Wilson's 'Flags at Sea', first published 1986 by Her Majesty's Stationery Office.

Back to the top