USS Constitution Escaping from the British, July 1812
This large oil on canvas painting by the American marine artist Julian Oliver (J. O.) Davidson (1853-1894) depicts USS Constitution under full sail catching a squall and escaping a British squadron in July, 1812. The American frigate’s escape from an overwhelming British force was the culmination of a three-day chase in becalmed conditions, during which Constitution’s crew had resorted to towing the ship with boats and kedging with an anchor in an effort to escape. The multi-day chase came to an end as the ominous clouds of a squall built on the horizon. Hull ordered Constitution’s sails furled as the storm approached, and the British, not used to the weather in American waters, followed suit. As soon as the squall struck, the crew quickly spread the sails again and seized upon the squall, leaving the British in their wake.
Davidson, born in Cumberland, Maryland, specialized in naval illustration and created many large oil paintings of War of 1812 naval battles.