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Portraits and Images

Nelson's Column in Trafalgar Square, London.  The most well-known of Nelson imagery, and an iconic London landmark

Portrait by Lemuel Abbott.

This was painted just after Nelson lost his arm.  It shows him thin and with a drawn face as he is dealing with the constant intense pain.  His hair had turned white with the shock of his wound (in later years it grew out to his natural auburn-grey).  However this painting has been criticised for smoothing Nelson's features and making him look a little younger and prettier.


Portrait by William Beechey.

This was one of the last portraits painted of Nelson.  It shows him as The Hero, a strong and determined leader.  Here he also looks healthier than in other portraits.  It is also one of the only portraits that shows the scar above his right eye from the wound he sustained at the Nile.  Usually, he would hide the scar behind a lock of hair.


Portrait by Edridge.


Portrait by Fuger.

This was painted in Vienna during Nelson's overland trip back to England with the Hamiltons.


Portrait by Guzzardi.

I can't express how much I dislike this portrait.  It was painted by Guzzardi in Naples during Nelson's stay there with the Hamiltons.  Everything about this painting is just... odd.  It's not my Nelson at all.


Portrait by John Hoppner.

This is my all-time favourite portrait of Nelson.  There are 2 versions - one, the full-length oil painting (top).  The other, an unfinished sketch which Hoppner based the painting upon.  What I find particularly interesting is the differences between them.  The finished portrait shows a leader - a kind, approachable one, filled with a quiet confidence.  This is the Nelson loved by his men.  The sketch shows a tired, slightly haggard man with a hint of irritability, yet one who is poised, a determined leader in every respect.  I think that putting these two images next to each other gives the best image of all facets of Nelson's character.


Portrait by Rigaud.

This is the first commissioned portrait of Nelson and was painted when he was a Captain.  Here he is a handsome, confident young man.  The portrait took two sittings, and in between the two he fell seriously ill with malaria.  So Rigaud had to adjust the fuller face he'd begun at the first sitting, and so the finished painting shows Nelson's post-illness face and is a little drawn.



Portrait by Simon de Koster.

This is the portrait which Nelson described as looking 'the most like me'.  And actually I can believe that it might be.  It's a simple study of features, it tells us nothing of Nelson's character, though there is a calm alertness to him.  But the features and blemishes of his face are not softened or adonised.  Here he just who he was - Horatio Nelson.



Copyright Vicki Singleton 2013.