THREE FAMOUS FLAGSHIPS: HM SHIPS VICTORY, IRON DUKE AND QUEEN ELIZABETH
(MP246). Frank Watson Wood (1862-1953). Watercolour signed, dated 1922 and inscribed "Three Famous Flagships" and with ships names..
Limited Edition 12 copies worldwide
Standard size: 23 ½ x 10 ins (60 x 25.4 cms) approx.
This is a popular theme of Wood’s - depicting three of the Royal Navy’s best known ships all of whom were also flagships in their day: indeed this website has one other by Wood (MP 048) showing these three same ships and entitled “Three Great Flagships”. That one is dated 1920, this one 1922 by which time VICTORY was no longer at this berth.
In 1922, the Commander-in-Chief Portsmouth (flag in HMS VICTORY) was Admiral The Hon Sir Somerset Gough-Calthorpe GCMG KCB CVO. VICTORY herself had recently been moved out of the stream and into Portsmouth dockyard where on 12th January 1922 she was eased into No 2 Dock, the oldest dry dock in the world dating from 1495. Here the huge task of restoration began and it could well be that Wood was responding to the renewed interest shown by the country in Nelson’s old flagship at this time by painting this watercolour.
In the centre and leaving harbour is the dreadnought battleship HMS IRON DUKE. Flagship for Admiral Jellicoe’s tenure as Commander-in-Chief of the Grand Fleet (August 1914-November 1916), IRON DUKE was, in 1922, flagship of the Mediterranean Fleet with her sisters MARLBOROUGH, BENBOW and EMPEROR of INDIA. Admiral Sir John de Robeck Bt GCB GCMG was the C-in-C and Captain M E Nasmith VC CB Flag Captain in IRON DUKE: Lt Cdr Robert Burnett, Lt Caspar John and Lt HRH Prince George were all notables in her wardroom.
HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH, to the right and alongside the dockyard wall, had been Admiral Beatty’s flagship for the last 2 years of the Great War. It had been Beatty’s good fortune to succeed Admiral Jellicoe just as our endeavours at sea were starting to bear fruit and so it was David Beatty with some 375 allied warships who took the surrender of the High Seas Fleet aboard QUEEN ELIZABETH in November 1918.