The Apotheosis of Nelson

Admiral Nelson, the British naval hero of the Napoleonic wars, was fatally wounded at the Battle of Trafalgar (1805). In this allegorical scene, Mars, the helmeted god of war, welcomes him onto Mount Olympus, the home of the ancient gods. Nelson’s ascent is assisted by Poseidon, god of the seas, and Fame, depicted as a woman with wings, among others. Below, on the ship’s deck, Britannia, the female personification of Great Britain, bids farewell to her greatest naval hero. At her feet are one of the Fates and grief-stricken members of the crew. This is a preparatory study for a painting exhibited in Bern (Switzerland) in 1818. It is one of the few surviving works by Legrand, whose career bridged the transition between the Neoclassical and Romantic styles.

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