Trinity House Paintings
"Battle of Chesapeake, 5th September 1781" by John Steven Dews- Price Upon Request
JOHN STEVEN DEWS (Born 1949) Battle of Chesapeake, 5th September 1781 Oil on canvas Size: 101.60 x 152.40 cms (40 x 60 ins) Signed lower left Provenance: Private Collection, United Kingdom The Battle of the Chesapeake, also known as the Battle of the Virginia Capes or simply the Battle of the Capes, was a crucial naval battle in the American War of Independence that took place near the mouth of Chesapeake Bay on 5 September 1781, between a British fleet led by Rear Admiral Sir Thomas Graves and a French fleet led by Rear Admiral Francois Joseph Paul, the Comte de Grasse. The battle was tactically inconclusive but strategically a major defeat for the British, since it prevented the Royal Navy from reinforcing or evacuating the blockaded forces of Lieutenant General Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown, Virginia. When the French were able to achieve temporary control of the sea lanes against the British, the result was the reinforcement of the Continental Army with siege artillery and French troops—all of which proved decisive in the Siege of Yorktown, effectively securing independence for the Thirteen Colonies. Presented in July 1781 with the options of attacking British forces in either New York or Virginia, Admiral de Grasse opted for the latter, arriving at the Chesapeake at the end of August. Upon learning that de Grasse had sailed from the West Indies for North America, and that French Admiral de Barras had also sailed from Newport, Rhode Island, Admiral Graves concluded that they were going to join forces at the Chesapeake. Sailing south from New York with 19 ships of the line, Graves arrived at the mouth of the Chesapeake early on 5 September to see de Grasse's fleet at anchor in the bay. De Grasse hastily prepared most of his fleet, 24 ships of the line, for battle and sailed out to meet Graves. In a two-hour engagement that took place after hours of maneuvering, the lines of the two fleets did not completely meet, with only the forward and center sections of the lines fully engaging. The battle was consequently fairly evenly matched, although the British suffered more casualties and ship damage. The battle broke off when the sun set. British tactics in the battle have been a subject of contemporary and historic debate. For several days the two fleets sailed within view of each other, with de Grasse preferring to lure the British away from the bay, where Barras was expected to arrive carrying vital siege equipment. On 13 September de Grasse broke away from the British and returned to the Chesapeake, where Barras had arrived. Graves returned to New York to organize a larger relief effort; this did not sail until 19 October, two days after Cornwallis surrendered John Steven Dews was born in Yorkshire in 1949. Due to his superb draftsmanship and the excellent quality of his painting, his rise to success was meteoric and has now placed him at the pinnacle of the marine art world. He inherited his passion for ships and the sea from his grandfather, who was an Assistant Harbour Master in Hull. Following his graduation, Steven Dews built up an astonishing portfolio for his first exhibition in 1976 and, on the exhibition's first night, virtually his entire collection was sold. The following year he held an exhibition in San Francisco which also sold out to great critical acclaim and, since then, Steven Dews has continued exhibiting regularly at leading galleries in London and throughout the world. He is now commissioned for several years in advance. Steven Dews has been the official artist for the British Americas Cup challenge team and his many official commissions have included paintings to record the 150th anniversary of the New York Yacht Club and an Australian Government commission to record the bicentennial celebrations in Sydney Harbour. His paintings combine his mastery in oil of the natural elements of the sea and sky with the precision and accuracy of his depictions of ships and boats under sail. Above all, coming from a family with generations of links to the sea, Steven Dews lives and loves the subject he paints.
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