Dramatic stylized depiction of the death of Lord Robert Manners (1758-1782), a British military hero and captain in the Royal Navy. Manners was mortally wounded at the Battle of Les Saintes in the West Indies, dying 11 days later of tetanus. The engraving is in a Romantic vein, with the young captain surrounded by gesturing sailors who have rushed to his aid, amidst the swirling smoke of battle. The youthful, aristocratic and brave Manners captured the imagination of his contemporaries and was the subject of other works of art notably including a 1782 portrait by Sir Joshua Reynolds and The Three Captains Memorial in the north transept of Westminster Abbey.
Lord Robert Manners came from British nobility, son of distinguished solider John Manners, Marquess of Granby, and studied at Eton before entering the Royal Navy while in his early teens. He served in the Battle of St. Vincent off the coast of Portugal, a victory of the British fleet over the Spanish. Immediately afterward, Manners' combination of military skill and family connections facilitated his promotion to captain just before he turned 22, despite the misgivings of some members of the Admiralty about his youth. Manners served on the ship Resolution during the Battle of Les Saintes. The battle was a victory for the British over the French, who were planning an invasion of Jamaica with the Spanish. Manners, however, was severely wounded in action. One leg was amputated after the battle and he was on a ship returning to England when he died of infection caused by his wounds. He was buried at sea.
Thomas Stothard was a popular, prolific and successful English painter and book illustrator, highly regarded by such contemporaries as Thomas Lawrence and Walter Scott. Stothard studied at the Royal Academy. From the beginning of his career, book illustration was his main focus. Together with his friends and near contemporaries, William Blake and John Flaxman, Stothard developed an austere, linear style of draftsmanship, although his illustrations tended more toward realism. He made numerous paintings of scenes from British history that were popularized as engravings.
John Keyse Sherwin was an English engraver, best known for his many works after master painters including Poussin, Reynolds, Stothard and Gainsborough. In 1769, William Mitford discovered his talents and encouraged him. He went on to study painting under John Astley and at the Royal Academy and engraving with the master engraver Francesco Bartolozzi. From 1774 to 1784, he exhibited at the Royal Academy. In 1775 he went into business on his own. Sherwin served as Engraver to the King for a series of prints in imitation of chalk drawings from 1785 to 1790, and also as Engraver to the Prince of Wales. John's younger brother Charles Sherwin assisted him but also engraved independently, including plates for Bell's British History. Charles was active from about 1780 until his death in 1794.
Thomas Macklin (1760-1800) was an English publisher and printseller. Macklin's firm operated in London from 1779 until his death in 1800, when Hannah Macklin took over operated the business until 1809. He was also proprietor of the Poets' Gallery in Fleet Street.
Full publication information: Stothard pinx't. Engraved by J.K. Sherwin Historial Engraver to His Majesty & to His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales & Charles Sherwin, Engraver to His Majesty. London Published 15th Aug't. 1786 by Tho's Macklin 89 Fleet Street.
Condition: Generally very good with the usual overall light toning, wear, soft creases. Margins short, but platemark present. Few short marginal tears and chips professionally restored.
"Lord Robert Manners." Westminster Abbey. 2010. http://www.westminster-abbey.org/our-history/people/lord-robert-manners (11 June 2010).
"Lord Robert Manners (Royal Navy officer)." Wikipedia. 29 May 2010. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lord_Robert_Manners_%28Royal_Navy_officer%29 (11 June 2010).
Maxted, Ian. "The London book trades 1775-1800: a preliminary checklist of members." Exeter Working Papers in British Book Trade History. U.K.: Devon Library and Information Services. http://bookhistory.blogspot.com/2007/01/london-1775-1800-m.html (Macklin) and http://bookhistory.blogspot.com/2007/01/london-1775-1800-s.html (Sherwin) (8 June 2010).
"Thomas Stothard." The Grove Dictionary of Art. New York: Macmillan. 2000. Online at Artnet.com.http://www.artnet.com/library/08/0816/T081675.asp (8 June 2010).