Horatio Nelson, undeniably our most heroic and celebrated British seaman, seems to have earned the trust and following of his sailors by always leading from the front and as such setting a very personal example in what he expected from those who fought with him. It was sadly an act of this great leadership and bravery that brought him to his untimely end, whilst standing resolutely in uniform with full decorations on the quarterdeck of his flagship HMS Victory, making him a clear target for the enemy, an act of defiance made by him to the French and against the advice of his fellow officers during the mayhem that ensued at the battle of Trafalgar.

A marble bust of Lord Nelson, After Franz Thaller (1759-1817) and Matthias Ranson (Fl. circa 1800)

The legend of Nelson and his bravery continues to live on, and Nelson memorabilia always draws interest, especially when personal in the form of items gifted or letters written. Cheffins was delighted to offer for sale last year a small collection of items from a descendant of William Waldegrave, 1st Baron Radstock, a friend and fellow naval officer of Nelson’s who fought alongside him at the battle of Cape St Vincent in 1797. As a keepsake Nelson gifted Waldegrave a small lock of his hair set in a brooch and bearing an engraved inscription which sold, after much competitive bidding for £11,600. 

The marble bust with the Bremont Victory watch, sold for £6,000

In our Jewellery, Silver and Watches sale on 23rd November and our Fine sale on 7th December we find our heroic seaman and his flag ship Victory reunited again in the most curious of ways, namely with a limited edition Bremont Victory watch having been crafted from original brass, copper and oak timber taken from HMS Victory during her 2010 restoration (estimate £2,000-4,000, sold for £7,764), and a fine 19th century marble bust of Nelson after the Viennese sculptor Franz Thaller and his assistant Matthias Ranson. The bust comes from a private collection in North Norfolk, the area in which Nelson grew up and depicts him in rear-admiral’s full-dress uniform, wearing various decorations, including two large naval medals. The original version by Thaller and Ranson is held in the collection of the national Maritime Museum, Greenwich and was made in August 1800 during Nelson’s stay in Vienna, whilst traveling back to England from Italy with a party that included Lord and Lady Hamilton as well as Maria Carolina, Queen of Sicily. 

The piece has an estimate of £15,000 - £20,000. To view the bust in the catalogue, please click here