A late 18th century watercolour portrait of a midshipman, circa 1780 – 1790. Midshipmen were usually the sons of wealthy or aristocratic families training to become commissioned naval officers. They joined the navy between the ages of 12 and 14. Many, such as a small 12 year old boy, a son of a Norfolk clergyman, who would become Admiral Lord Nelson, went to sea courtesy of a relation or patron, a serving captain perhaps, someone who had position and influence in the navy and who would take them under their wing, providing them with a classroom at sea where they would learn all the necessary skills and tools to rise above the post of midshipman. This young midshipman wears a skeleton suit with lace collar and ornamental buttons. There is a frigate in the background. The portrait is set to a gilt metal pendant under crystal. To reverse a weave of brown hair, no doubt a memento for his mother before he embarked on his naval career. The pendant is 3 and 1/3 inches long and 2.5 inches wide. Charming and immaculate.
similar portraits of 18th century midshipmen