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60. Painting of Napoleonic Spanish ships

jeudi 15 janvier 2009

Normally is some misconception about the painting of the Spanish ships of the Trafalgar times (1760 – 1815), this is due to an badly interpretation of visual fonts of the era (foreign officers sightings, or tales...). This misconception afects even to the most popular ship of the Spanish navy the Santisima Trinidad (136 cannons). This article is based in the Spanish regulations of the time, the paintings and plans of the ships, the original models of this ships that are preservarted in the museo Naval, and the official books of the more important Spanish Yards (La Crraca in Cadiz, El Ferrol, Guarnizo in Santander, La Habana in Cuba, and Mahon in Menorca).

The painting of the Napoleonic ships, was strictly regulated with the norms of the Navy Ministry. One of the regulations, was the regulation of 1772, that indicates the norms that i list. This regulations stablish that evry two years the ships will be painted following the regulations, and to paint a ship whit any modification will be necessary the permision of the Secretary of the Navy.

There are some modifications in these rules, tht are listed in the text.

MASTS Bowsprit Fore Main Myzzen Yellow (Sometimes the top mast, topgallant, jibboom and flying jibboom, are painted earth red, this special thing will be only in the ships of the line 112, and 74 cannons, to make diferences with the others).





Yellow bands in the starting of the decks, with gun ports in black, main wale, middle wale and upper wale black

Bulkwark yellow

Plank sheer black

Inside the bulkwark, from deck since plank sheer, earth red (wine color)

Headrails, sometimes blue with gold borders, sometimes bone with gold borders


Bulkheads blue (or deep blue or black) and yellow (as shown in the picture), the same for the poop bulkhead and breakhead bulkhead

Breakhead platform and cathead blue, sometimes in black


Blue with details in gold and bone, sometimes black with details in gold, the coat of arms of the sip in the poop.

Normally the basic paint was the black or deep blue, only in some cases (like the Santa Ana), the stern galleries were in blue.


All the ship in earth red, gunports, inside earth red, officers, captain and admmirals cabin in bone.


Hull black, yellow wale.

Inside, earth red, and inside the poop bone

This instructions were the same for ships of the line, frigates, cutters etc.... Obviosusly, somne times there were some relaxation in the rules, but if we see originals paintins, and plans the painting is very similar to the instructions.




THE SANTA ANA This painting from the Museo Naval (Naval Museum, Madrid), is a good example of the period painting of the spanish ship, but has some wrong details, because in the Museo Naval is the original model made for the construction of the ship (like many others in the museum), an there are some diferences, they are :
- the yards are in black
- the top mast, top gallant, jibboom, and flying jibbom are in earth red
- the headrails are in blue borders gold.
- the gun ports are in yellow

Miguel Costa Simón Palma de Mallorca Spain

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