HMS NEW ZEALAND - The Sixteen Point Turn at Jutland

W L Wyllie (1851-1931). Watercolour signed and dated 1917. Provenance: from the collection of Admiral of the Fleet Prince Louis of Battenberg and thence by descent to Lord Ivar Mountbatten.

Jutland - HMS NEW ZEALAND - The Sixteen Point Turn

14 15/16 x 29 5/16 ins (38 x 74.5 cms)

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Prints of this may be available on: Maritime Prints.

For those who have been following the detective story associated with this magnificent watercolour, the mystery is solved!  Exactly one year to the day that the pencil drawing of this scene was added to the Maritime Originals website (see "HMS NEW ZEALAND: the Sixteen Point Turn at Jutland, 31st May 1916" - its the next image on this rotating carousel of pictures)  the final stage of that drawing has come into Maritime Originals' possession in the shape of this large watercolour which measures some 30 ins (75 cms) across. And whilst it is, of course, entirely possible that Wyllie also painted the scene on canvas the location of which has yet to be discovered, at least one of the finished products of that drawing has now been found!

Shown here by Wyllie are, from left to right, HMS PRINCESS ROYAL (Captain  W H Cowan  MVO DSO RN) flying the flag of Rear Admiral O de B Brock CB, HMS LION (Captain A E M  Chatfield CVO RN) flying the flag of Vice Admiral Sir David Beatty KCB MVO DSO,  HMS NEW ZEALAND (Captain  J F E Green RN), HMS MALAYA (Captain the Hon Algernon Boyle CB MVO RN), HMS WARSPITE (Captain E M Phillpotts RN), HMS VALIANT (Captain M Woollcombe RN) and HMS BARHAM (Captain A W Craig RN) flying the flag of Rear Admiral Hugh Evan-Thomas MVO. Various destroyers of the 13th Destroyer Flotilla (Commander the Hon E B S Bingham RN) and ships temporarily attached to the 13th are also shown here by Wyllie as they rush hither and thither to protect their capital ships!  Although TIGER, ahead of NEW ZEALAND, suffered some 70 casualties in the action that day and INDEFATIGABLE, next astern, was lost entirely with over 1000 men perishing in the explosion, NEW ZEALAND was hit just once duing the action and suffered no casualties at all.  She was certainly bracketed many times by the Germans as Wyllie shows us here but her ship's company were not at all surprised at her luck: when she had visited the dominion before the war she had been presented with one or two items which would "ensure" her safety in action.  A special wheel made of different kinds of wood from New Zealand was fitted in the conning tower in place of the admiralty pattern one and the captain would need to wear a greenstone pendant around his neck and a Piu Piu around his waist, a rush matting skirt which Captain Green found a touch uncomfortable on account of his spreading middle!  Nevetheless he kept it close at hand, we are told, and the magic clearly worked!    

This painting together with a further eight WL Wyllie watercolours of World War 1 scenes of affairs at sea was originally purchased by Admiral of the Fleet Lord Louis Mountbatten, 1st Marquess of Milford Haven (1854-1922), formerly styled Prince Louis of Battenberg, and Great Britain's First Sea Lord 1912-1914.  The discovery of pencilled initials "LAM" on the reverse of the painting would tend to indicate that the watercolour was acquired by the admiral after he had assumed the Mountbatten family name in 1917: this is consistent with the provenance offered when the picture was purchased in April 2018 and is thought likely that all these Wyllies were bought directly from the artist, if not commissioned by the old admiral himself. They have been in the Mountbatten family since, until recently sold by Lord Ivar Mountbatten and acquired by Maritime Originals.