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Caribbean Sketchbook c.1801-7

Posted by Sam Willis, on October 25th, 2012


This sketchbook contains sixteen watercolour images by an unknown artist, depicting maritime scenes in the Caribbean in the approximate period 1801-1807. The images offer glimpses into the maritime world of the Caribbean at this time, showing British shipping in the region alongside fortifications, geographic landmarks, and other locations of interest.

One image shows the Temeraire in Carlisle Bay, Barbados. This aids our ability to date the collection, as we know the Temeraire to have been present there in 1802. Another image shows the Implacable in fine detail.

Viewers will also note views of various landmarks, particularly on Martinique (including Diamond Rock, Fort Edward, and Fort George). During the French Revolutionary Wars (1792-1802), Martinique was hotly contested between British and French forces.

The island had been returned to the French as part of the Treaty of Amiens (1802), which saw a brief interregnum in the Revolutionary Wars. During this time, Napoleon sought to consolidate his power in France whilst Britain aimed to restore its war-torn economy. The peace did not last long, with Britain declaring war in May 1803. Although the West Indies were not the primary focus of the war, their economic importance was well-known to both powers. These images show those aspects of the wartime Caribbean that proved intriguing to a contemporary observer.

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