Two of England’s most loved naval commanders will feature in a new exhibition timed to mark the arrival into Sunderland of the Tall Ships.

Admiral Horatio Nelson and Newcastle-born Admiral Cuthbert Collingwood, heroes of the Napoleonic Wars, will be remembered at an exhibition at Sunderland Museum, Library and Winter Gardens between Saturday, June 2 and Sunday, July 22.

The exhibition, Naval Heroes: Nelson and Collingwood, will feature a famous portrait of Nelson by artist Lemuel Francis Abbott, painted in 1797, and on loan from the National Portrait Gallery, London.

Other paintings on show will include After Trafalgar by Frank Mason (1907); A Naval Engagement by Richard Paton (18th century); Admiral Lord Collingwood by James Lonsdale (1806), and a portrait of Lieutenant Granville Thompson, a Newcastle sailor who fought on Collingwood’s flagship Sovereign at the Battle of Trafalgar.

Other exhibits include a silver kettle presented to Collingwood by Newcastle Corporation after Trafalgar, and a letter written by Nelson on board his ship Victory in 1804.

A night telescope, reputed to have been used by Collingwood at Trafalgar and on loan from the Discovery Museum, Newcastle, will also be on show. A Wearside connection will be a Sunderland creamware mug, produced at Dawson’s Pottery in the city in about 1800. The mug shows ‘Lord Nelson Engaging the Toulon Fleet of the Mouths of the Nile.’

Shauna Gregg, Exhibitions, Collections  and Archives Officer at Sunderland Museum, said: “We’ve collated a fascinating collection of paintings, prints and artefacts about Nelson and Collingwood and it seems fitting to time the exhibition for the visit of the Tall Ships.

“We’re known for our maritime heritage and Nelson and Collingwood are rightly remembered for their vital roles in English maritime history.”

Nelson's strategic brilliance was confirmed at the Battle of Cape St Vincent (1797) and the Battle of the Nile (1798). His last engagement was his greatest victory; he was killed by a sniper while defeating the combined French and Spanish fleets at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.

Collingwood was second in command at Trafalgar and took over after Nelson’s death.

After a long and successful career, Collingwood died at sea on his way back to England in 1810. He was buried alongside his friend Nelson in St Paul’s Cathedral, London.

Rebecca Ball, Creative Director for Sunderland Culture, added: “The visit of the Tall Ships is a huge event for Sunderland and the region, and it’s important that cultural venues make the most of the opportunity to show off what we have in the city.

“We hope thousands of Tall Ships visitors will explore the city and find the many exhibitions and events timed for their arrival. The Naval Heroes exhibition will not be one to miss, and will also give visitors the chance to discover the magnificent Museum and Winter Gardens.”

The exhibition will be free of charge and open between 10am and 4pm Mondays to Saturdays and between noon and 4pm on Sundays.

Image credit - Horatio Nelson by Lemuel Francis Abbott, 1797 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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