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Eduardo De Martino (1838-1912)

The Naval Review at Spithead, 26 June 1897 Signed and dated 1898

Oil on canvas | 76.5 x 190.5 cm (support, canvas/panel/stretcher external) | RCIN 405260

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  • In the foreground, the steam launch Turbinia moves to the left as the Royal Yacht, 'The Victoria and Albert', approaches on the right, passing the ranks of the British fleet aligned at anchor on the left.

    Following the success of the Golden Jubilee Review of 1887 an even larger event was planned to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. In total 165 British warships assembled at Spithead and gradually formed themselves into four lines, each five miles in length. It was a remarkable display of naval power, although it was the Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII who inspected the fleet, rather than Queen Victoria, now too frail to attend. 'HMY Victoria and Albert' steamed up and down the lines of ships and then anchored off the 'Renown'. The Prince then received the English and foreign admirals on board ship.

    The Review was not only a display of naval prowess, but also new technology: the small white steam launch 'Turbina', in the foreground, was the world's first steam turbine ship. It was reported that she raced down the line between the ships of the Fleet and back again at an unheard of speed of 34 knots. Interpreted by some as a prank, it was instead a demonstration of a new and revolutionary type of marine propulsion. It was Eduardo de Martino who in 1906 similarly documented the Yarrow-Napier Torpedo boat, one of a new breed of torpedo boats powered by an internal combustion engine (see RCIN 402376).

    The Court Circular for Balmoral, 10 June 1898, recorded that Chevalier Eduardo de Martino, Marine Painter to the Queen, arrived at the Castle, and had the honour of submitting his picture of the Jubilee Naval Review, which he has painted for Her Majesty, for the Queen to inspect. He then dined with the Queen and Royal Family and the following day he was presented with the insignia of the RVO (4th class) by the Queen. It was during his stay that he also made various sketches for Christmas and menu cards for Queen Victoria (see RCIN 928457). The painting first hung at Osborne and in 1907 was recorded at Buckingham Palace.

    The Royal Collection holds a number of sketches of the event (see RCINs 451941, 927952, 925402, 925403). A small wash sketch is in the National Maritime Museum (PAD9598). A large watercolour at Bonhams, 27 Feb 2007 (lot 36), 42 x 110.5 cms, and a smaller oil study at Bonhams, 26 Sept 2012, (lot 168), 30.5 x 40.7cm. A painting by Charles Dixon, dated 1898 of the same subject in the National Maritime Museum.

    Commissioned by Queen Victoria

  • Medium and techniques

    Oil on canvas


    76.5 x 190.5 cm (support, canvas/panel/stretcher external)

    115.2 x 229.3 x 9.5 cm (frame, external)

  • Alternative title(s)

    The Jubilee Naval Review at Spithead, 26 June 1897