HMS LION AND HMS INDEFATIGABLE AT SEA, JULY 1912
(MP159). Charles Dixon RI (1872-1934). Watercolour. Signed and annotated "Bound North July 14th 1912" and with "HMS INDEFATIGABLE" and "HMS LION" inscribed faintly under each ship. A pair with MP160 left.
Limited Edition: 25 copies worldwide
Standard size: 10.75 x 5ins (27 x 12.7 cms) approx but will easily enlarge.
Price band (standard size): £140-165
Both from the 1st Cruiser Squadron (Rear Admiral Lewis Bayly CVO), HMS LION (Captain Arthur Duff) was in fact the squadron flagship although Charles Dixon does not here show Admiral Bayly’s flag, possibly because he had chosen not to be embarked when LION was still so new and beset with the inevitable teething troubles. King George V was on the throne of Great Britain which mustered the greatest fleet in the world; and Kaiser William II was the German Emperor, supreme War Lord of the most powerful military and industrial state in Europe which boasted the second largest navy in existence. The “unsinkable” TITANIC had gone down 3 months earlier and the naval arms race between Germany and Great Britain was well advanced. This is the wider background against which the scene here was painted.
HMS INDEFATIGABLE (Captain Arthur Leveson), laid down at HM Dockyard Devonport on 23th February 1909, was the name ship of the second trio of battle cruisers to be built for the Royal Navy, her sisters being AUSTRALIA and NEW ZEALAND. The class were 590 feet (232 meters) in length overall, displaced 18, 750 tons (of which armament accounted for 2,580 tons, armour 3,735 tons, machinery 3,655 tons and hull 7,000 tons) and at full power - when some 43.000 shaft horsepower was produced by 31 boilers - they could steam at the then impressively high speed of 25 knots. Manned by a ship’s company of over 740 they mounted eight x 12 inch and sixteen 4 inch guns. Captain Leveson had commissioned INDEFAT at Devonport on 24th February 1911 (a mere 24 months after she had first been laid down) and she spent the next 6 months or so running trials and shaking down before joining the 1st Cruiser Squadron.
HMS LION had also been built by Devonport Dockyard, being laid down 8 months after INDEFAT: she was to take an extra 6 months in building however, and when she did start running trials in January 1912 it quickly became apparent that both the tripod foremast which carried the spotting top, and the bridge, were completely smoked out by the fore funnel which was placed forward of the mast. The only practical solution was to reverse fore funnel and mast and this was duly carried out over a 3 month period enabling her to commission on 4th June 1912. By this time too all three funnels had been increased in height.
This painting, dated 14th July 1912, shows a LION, therefore, who had been in commission only 5 weeks: entitled “Bound North” we can speculate that the two ships were probably headed for Invergordon or Scapa Flow, INDEFAT helping to work up LION as they steamed north in company.