The Capture of the slaver Gabriel by HMS Acorn | Nicholas Matthews Condy | 1841
The ‘Acorn’ brig was one of the British West Africa Squadron, established in 1808 in order to enforce the suppression of the Atlantic slave trade, following the British Act of Abolition the previous year. In early July 1841 ‘Acorn’ spotted the ‘Gabriel’, an Iberian pirate vessel, gaining on the British barque ‘India’, which was carrying migrants to Australia.
Condy’s painting shows the moment early in the chase when the two vessels in full sail have opened fire on one another; but it is still a matter of suspense whether the pirate vessel will be taken or will escape. A print was produced after the painting, ‘H.M. Brig Acorn 16 Guns in Chase of the Piratical Slaver Gabriel’ though it is clear from the above account that the ‘Gabriel’ was not carrying a slave cargo on this occasion. Nonetheless, the picture shares the same moral message as many other marine paintings of this period, showing British Navy vessels in action against slave ships.
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