Thomas Buttersworth Sr., signed, c.1815. The British prided themselves in winning single ship fights against the French. In June 1798, the 38-gun British frigate HMS SEAHORSE, under the command of Captain Edward J. Foote, captured the French frigate LE SENSIBLE off the coast of Sicily. The battle, much of which took place at close quarters, lasted less than 15 minutes. HMS SEAHORSE stayed under Foote’s command until 1803, serving in the Mediterranean and as far afield as India. With no other captures, Foote may have commissioned Buttersworth to paint his victory, perhaps using some of his prize money to pay for it. Her subsequent career included victories against Turks, French and service in the Chesapeake in the War of 1812. In the painting, Captain Foote has put his ship alongside the French and his crew is using the bowsprit to board LE SENSIBLE and capture her in hand to hand combat. A xebec in the right corner instantly identifies this as Mediterranean painting to a 19th century seafarer.

Catalog Number 1979.79.13.1