Large bone antique model c. 1805 - 1815
H.M.S. Hibernia (Roman name for Ireland) launched Plymouth Dockyard in 1804 typified the British Royal Navy’s Ship-of-the-Line. These very large three-deck vessels ranged in hull size from 186’ (HMS Victory) to that of Hibernia’s 201’ at 2,530 tons. They were very impressive ships, and would be employed in the ‘line-of-battle’ when confronting an enemy fleet. Due to their size they were cumbersome and if matched against a smaller 74-gun ship in moderate sea they had to close off their lower gun deck making them vulnerable against a more maneuverable vessel. Hibernia as with other First-rate ships lived a long life due to extensive care. Between 1807 and 1808, Hibernia, under the command of Sir William Sidney Smith, led the British scout of the Portuguese Royal Family during the Transfer of the Portuguese Court to Brazil. She was flagship of the British Mediterranean Fleet from 1816 until 1855. Hibernia ended her days as the base Flag ship at Grand Harbour, Malta until 1902 when it was sold. *Her original figurehead is on display at the maritime museum in Malta. The model is constructed in the normal procedure having a wood core and is planked-over with bone or baleen. The deck planking, as well as that applied to the hull has been pin fastened. The model displays aspects of free-hand carving work, e.g., the waist curtains are draped, the capstan base, script incised name on the stern, as well as other items of deck furniture. At the bow is a large figurehead depicting a queen with a weighty crown; this carving blends smoothly into the trail boards. The motifs employed seem to have their own unique character, e.g. railings, outer bulwark planking with incised polychrome scroll work and floral designs, unusually shaped anchors of bone, and stern galleries possibly from some Mediterranean influence. The model has a retractable three-gundeck mechanism operated from two cords hanging from openings at the stern. It is rigged with most all standing and essential running lines per the period practice, and has solid bone masts and various spars. Custom fitted display case with the baseboard and glazed cover trim in matching rosewood, baseboard has a old English brown leather top, with hand engraved sterling silver plaques.
Condition: Very Good [conservation by American Marine Model Gallery 2010]
Provenance: London gallery; 1940’s private collection Michigan