Dominic Serres was commissioned to make at least 14 paintings of the Siege of Havana by George Keppel, 3rd Earl of Albemarle (1724-72) who was the army commander-in-chief of the operation. According to the Royal Museum at Greenwich, Serres based the paintings on Orsbridge’s sketches and also drew upon his own sea-going career, which included a stint in Havana. The June 7th print offered here is dedicated to Keppel. The June 30th view is dedicated to another officer who participated in the siege, Mariot Arbuthnot, Commander, of the warship Orford. Other ships participating in the siege are noted in the titles in the lower margins of the prints.
Dominic Serres was a French-born artist who spent most of his career in England, where he became a leading marine painter and founding member of the Royal Academy. His family intended for him to follow a religious vocation; instead he ran away to join the merchant marine service. He began painting after arriving in England, probably as a naval prisoner of war. His depictions of naval actions of the Seven Years War (1756-63) established his reputation, and he built upon it in the 1770s and ’80s with paintings of naval battles during the American Revolution. Serres was appointed Marine Painter to George III in 1780.
James Mason was a landscape engraver based in London, active for about 40 years. He engraved a series of plates after Claude and Gasper Poussin was published by Arthur Pond in the 1740s. He also made many engravings after Scott, Lambret, Serres, and Bellers between 1750 and 1770, and was employed by publishing impresario John Boydell between 1769 and 1772. Mason exhibited at the Society of Artists between 1761 and 1783 and the Free Society between 1761 and 1767.
Title and dedication, lower margin, June 7th:
To the Rt. Hon’ble George Keppel, Earl of Albemarle, &c. &c. Commander in Chief, of all His Majesty’s Land Forces, at the Attacks and Reduction, of the Havannah, This Perspective View of the Landing and Marching the Troops along the Shore, towards the Fort Cojimar, between the Hours of One and Three, in the Afternoon of June 7th 1762. With the Transports anchoring along the Shore, also His Majesty’s Ship Dragon, and the Granada Bomb, attacking the Fort and Batteries. Is Inscribed by His Devoted and most Obed’t, Humble Serv’t. P.O.R. Sbridge. (Tables left and right of title: “Ships in Sight [and number of] Guns: Valiant 74. Temeraire 74. Dragon 74. Orford 64. Rippon 60. Pembroke 60. Granada Bomb.”) Drawn on the Spot, Design’d & Publish’d as ye Act directs.
Title and dedication, lower margin, June 30th:
To Mariot Arbuthnot Esq. Commander, of His Majesty’s ship of War Orford, at the Reduction of the Havannah, in the Year 1762, This Perspective View, of landing the Cannon, Bombs, Provisions, and Water, for the Army, June 30th, between 6 and 7, in the Evening; the Orford making signals to the Commodore; with the Dragon, Cambridge, & Marlborough, lying with their Heads to the Sea, for the Sterling Castle, to get to the Westward of them: Is most humbly Inscribed By One of his Lieutenants, and Most Devoted Humble Servant, P.O.R. Sbridge. Drawn on the Spot design’d and publish’d as the Act directs.
Condition: Generally very good each recently professionally cleaned and restored, including repair of a few short marginal tears, with light remaining overall toning, wear, handling.
Maxted, Ian. “The London book trades 1775-1800: a checklist of members.” Exeter Working Papers in Book History. https://bookhistory.blogspot.com/2007/01/london-1775-1800-m.html (25 November 2019).
“Siege of Havana.” Wikipedia. 16 November 2019. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siege_of_Havana (25 November 2019).
“The Piazza at Havana.” Royal Museums Greenwich. https://collections.rmg.co.uk/collections/objects/11910.html (22 November 2019).