Brierly, Oswald (1817-94; English)
Admiral Blake, with a squadron of five ships, blockading the royalist fleet, under command of Prince Rupert, in the Targus, 1650
Watercolour, 55.8 x 99 cm (sight)
Purchased 1881
National Gallery of Victoria (p.168.5-1)

This work was bought after being shown at the Melbourne International Exhibition in 1881.

Sir Oswald Brierly, noted in NGV 1894 as marine painter to Queen Victoria (a position he assumed in 1874), specialized in water-colours, and was a member of the RWS. Earlier in life, he visited New Zealand and New South Wales, and several of his impressive water-colour seascapes are held in the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

Mallalieu observes that while Brierly’s “paintings of contemporary marine subjects can be fine and atmospheric,” his later historical images are less substantial. The subject here is a skirmish in Portugal, at the end of the English Civil War, between Cromwell’s fleet and a small Royalist group led by Charles I’s nephew Prince Rupert.


AR 1881, p.53 (size given as 28 x 45½ inches); NGV 1894, p.51 (II.Stawell Gallery, no.49); NGV 1905, p. 51 (II.Stawell Gallery, no.61) [£164/17]

For the artist, see Mallalieu (1976), p.41 (quoted); AKL 14 (1996), pp.212-13; Bénézit 2, p.1246; and, by Marnie Bassett & Bernard Smith (1969); see also

A smaller depiction of the same subject, dated 1874, was auctioned at Christie’s, London, on 5 May 1994 (lot 33; 51.4 x 98.4 cm; sold for £10,120), see, (also including detailed information on the historical subject)