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Go Figure! (-Empire Lady)

Hey everyone! For this week’s “Go Figure!” post I have chosen a 1700 French figurehead. This particular one came to us in in 1936 and was donated by Admiral Chambers. She has an interesting story so I thought it was worth a post!

“Empire Lady” Figurehead

This figure head is a full figured white sculpture of a young girl walking. A ‘walking-style’ figurehead was something that was very popular in the 18th century, making this style cutting edge for her time. Furthermore, when taking a closer look at the girl’s face, you can see that she has dimples, leading us to believe that she was based on a real person. She is wearing an empire-style of dress, thus her name.

Dating from the 1700-1800’s, the “Empire Lady” was rumored to be from Santa Ana. This ship was a Spanish line launched in 1784, but was captured by the British on October 21, 1805. Once in the hands of the British she was recaptured by the French in 1805 during the Battle of Trafalgar. The Battle of Trafalgar was on October 21, 1805, in England during the War of the Third Coalition. As a result of the battle, Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson, became a glorified war hero, for at the end of the battle, all of his ships had remained intact. On the other hand, the Franco-Spanish fleet had lost twenty-two of their ships, one of them being Santa Ana. Our “Empire Lady” was rescued from her ship and found her way into our collection.. go figure!

For more information on the Battle of Trafalgar, come check out our exhibit The Nelson Touch!

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