In the War of the Austrian Succession, Cape Finisterre was the scene of a naval battle between a British fleet of 14 ships of the line commanded by Sir George Anson, who had recently been promoted to Vice-Admiral of the Blue, and two French squadrons that had not yet parted company to proceed to their separate destinations. One was making for North America for the recovery of Cape Breton Island, the other, together with a convoy, was intended to operate against the British settlements on the Coromandel Coast of India.
Viewed on eye level the spectator beholds the action unfolding in the middle distance across the open water. The victorious vessel, Anson's flagship the 'Prince George', can be seen just off stern in the centre of the composition, her sails brightly lit from the right, firing her guns. On either side, set back along the horizon, other ships of the English and the French fleet are engaged in the battle.
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