Photo: Admiral Adam Duncan, after John Hoppner. © Dundee City Council.
The great Scottish Naval hero, Admiral Adam Duncan died in 1804 and to mark the bicentenary of the event an exhibition, on at his former home Camperdown House from June 19 until September 5, will celebrate his life and career.
Born in Dundee in 1731, Adam Duncan rose to the highest ranks in the British Navy, his finest hour coming as Admiral of the Fleet in the North Sea in 1797.
Engaging the Dutch Navy, it was Duncan’s bold tactics that led to a famous victory at the Battle of Camperdown on October 11.
Photo: a commemorative medal, celebrating Duncan's achievement at the Battle of Camperdown. © National Museums of Scotland.
Breaking through the enemy lines, he masterminded the capture of 11 Dutch ships as a prize, thwarted a threatened French invasion and became an overnight hero.
Back on dry land a grateful nation rejoiced and he was made Viscount Duncan of Camperdown. With a £3,000 a year pension, he built the imposing Neo-Classical Camperdown House beside his home city of Dundee.
Admiral Duncan’s exploits in the battle were commemorated in a series of paintings and engravings, many of which have been loaned for the exhibition by Scotland’s national galleries and museums.
Photo: the Battle of Camperdown, 1797. © Dundee City Council.
The great hero himself was immortalised in oils by many of the great portrait painters of the day and examples on show include work by John Hoppner, Sir Henry Raeburn and Sir Joshua Reynolds.
At the lower end of the market, battle souvenirs made by market artists show just how popular Duncan was.
Commemorative medals, colourful jugs, battle prints and Bilston enamel boxes were all rushed out to capture the enthusiasm of the moment.
Photo: the hero himself captured by the great Sir Joshua Reynolds. © National Galleries of Scotland.
One of the more interesting features of the exhibition is certain to be the Lady Buckingham Bequest, which has been loaned by the National Galleries of Scotland and National Museums of Scotland jointly.
An avid Duncan enthusiast, Lady Buckingham was cousin to the last Earl of Camperdown, great-grand daughter of the Admiral himself and the last member of the family to live in Camperdown House, where she resided until her death in 1937.
"We are delighted that part of her collection has been returned to the house for this display," said Bailie Charles Farquhar, Convener of Leisure and Arts at Dundee City Council.
Photo: a commemorative drawer handle, celebrating Admiral Duncan's famous victory. Courtesy Dundee City Council.
"Dundee sets a great store on Admiral Duncan and is eager to celebrate his achievements with this exhibition specially funded by the City’s Common Good Fund."
Some of Duncan’s personal belongings will also be on show, including 16 commissions from the Admiralty, written on sheepskin parchment and signed by some of the greatest naval figures of the 18th century.
Relics of the Battle of Camperdown will include the ship’s drum from his flagship, the Venerable, and the bronze bell captured from the Dutch flagship, Vryheid.