19th-Century English School

HMS Hibernia In Choppy Waters Off Cape Finisterre

19th-Century English School

HMS Hibernia In Choppy Waters Off Cape Finisterre

This dramatic mid-19th-century oil painting by British artist T Jones depicts the HMS Hibernia amid turbulent conditions off Cape Finisterre, Spain.

It’s a splendid piece that captures the sheer brutality of these infamous waters.

The Royal Navy’s HMS Hibernia was a 110-gun ship launched at Plymouth in 1804. Designed by Sir John Henslow, she became the flagship for the Royal Navy base at Malta. An inscription on the reverse refers to Vice Admiral Sir William Parker who became Commander-in-Chief of the Mediterranean Fleet in 1845. The Hibernia was his flagship until 1855.

Here, we see her battling the conditions off Cape Finisterre, a deadly stretch and home to numerous wrecks over the centuries. A combination of brutal winter storms, dangerous currents, precarious reefs and dense fog make this an area to navigate with care. In 1596, 25 Spanish ships, including large galleons, were sunk in one night, with over 2,000 deaths. The area has always been known for its mortality and the Romans believed it to be the end of the known world.

Did you know: The name Finisterre is derived from the Latin ‘finis terrae’ - end of the Earth.

Evidently, the artist was captivated by this terrific battle between man and the epic forces of nature. Little is known about T Jones, but it’s plausible he was inspired by British marine artist Thomas Buttersworth (1768-1842). It’s intriguing to consider why he chose this particular scene to capture in 1862 given that Sir William Parker was no longer Commander-in-Chief. Could it be a commission from Sir Parker himself?

Signed lower right (under the frame), inscribed on the reverse and held within a 19th-century Rococo revival frame.

Learn more about Thomas Buttersworth in our directory.

Medium: Oil on canvas
Overall size: 29” x 21½” / 74cm x 57cm
Year of creation: c. 1862
Labels & Inscriptions: Auction chalk. Inscription on reverse. HMS Hibernia losing her foresail in a gale of wind off Finisterre. Signed T Jones.
Condition: Artwork presents well. Frame with some light wear.

Conservation & History

We care profoundly about our role as custodians and every piece in the collection has been assessed by our conservator. When required, we undertake professional restoration carefully using reversible techniques and adopt a light touch to retain the aged charm of each work. We also restore frames rather than replace them as many are original and selected by the artists themselves.

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