At the end of September Bonhams auctioned a painting of the iconic engagement between the Indefatigable, Amazon and Droits de L’Homme by marine painter James Lynn. The catalogue describes as…
…a painter of shipping and coastal scenes. He exhibited at the British Institution from 1828 to 1838 and he also exhibited at the Suffolk Street Gallery. His output was small, but his works are always of exceptional quality.
The painting sold for £10,000 and it’s certainly one of the more accurate and realistic representations of the engagement. Lynn clearly shows the damage to the French ship’s fore and main topmasts and the sea washing over her lower gun ports. Judging by the position of the three ships, and the moon breaking through the clouds, the scene is towards the end of the engagement, however it’s not immediately clear which is the Indefatigable and which the Amazon.
In an annotation to the Pellew family’s personal copy of Edward Osler’s biography of Admiral Lord Exmouth, John Gaze, Assistant Master of the Indefatigable at the time, noted that the Droits de L’Homme ran before the wind during the entire 10 hours of the engagement and never once changed her course. Because the frigates’ masts were less damaged than the 74’s they continually ran ahead of the larger vessel and had to wear across her bows repeatedly. At one point, not wearing fast enough, the bowsprit of the French ship came very close to the stern of the Indefatigable almost running her down.