Port Mahon, Minorca with British Men-of-War at Anchor

Port Mahon, Minorca with British Men-of-War at Anchor

ca. 1795
John Thomas Serres
Oil on canvas
Support (PTG): 20 3/8 x 30 1/4 inches (51.8 x 76.8 cm)

Port Mahon, on the island of Minorca, was the main British naval base in the Mediterranean, first captured in 1708 and made a British possession by the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713; a Royal Dockyard was established there in 1715. Port Mahon was lost and recaptured numerous times during the wars of the eighteenth century. John Thomas Serres’s painting shows British ships anchored in the natural harbor during the period of the French Revolutionary Wars known as the First Coalition, in which an uneasy alliance existed between Britain and Spain. The following year, Spain was persuaded to become an ally of France, but in 1798 the British again recaptured the island, which was finally ceded to Spanish control in 1802. The view shown here is from the north toward the town of Mahon, with the church spire of Santa Maria barely visible in the haze. 

B1976.7.68
Label on verso, lower center: “Arthur Ackermann & Son Ltd: | Establishment for the Sale | of | Sporting | Prints, Drawings, & Paintings, | 3, Old Bond Streent, London. W. 1. | Established | 1783 | [drawing of hunters and dogs]”; upper center: “H 103”
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection