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Dramatic image of the aftermath of the naval battle between the British Frigate HMS Quebec and the French Frigate Surveillante off the coast of Britanny during the American Revolution.

The image shows the remarkable battle between the two ships, who were, at the time, enemy combatants.  The Surveillante took part in the Naval operations in the American Revolutionary War and had taken another British ship earlier in 1779.  The Quebec patrolled European waters, interdicting Spanish and French ships including action in July 1779, where the Quebec had On 6 Julydriven on shore and destroyed a convoy of forty-nine small vessels, with a 20-gun frigate and several armed vessels, during which time it had been damaged.

On October 6, 1779, the Surveillante, under captain Couédic de Kergoaler, engaged the 32-gun HMS Quebec, under Captain George Farmer, in a three-and-a-half-hour-long naval battle. Both crews suffered heavy losses and both frigates were were completely dismasted. The battle ended when Quebec, firing through her own sails which covered her gunports, took fire and exploded. Surveillante, with a leaking hull and badly crippled, rescued the surviving British sailors and together the survivors returned to Brest the next day.  The British sailors reported being treated as castaways rather than prisoners of war. 

The lore of the battle inspired numerous paintings, including a painting by George Carter, from which this engraving is taken,and others by Auguste-Louis Rossel de Cercy (a key exhibit of the Musée de la Marine in Paris) and Robert Dodd.

The following description is given on the website of the American Revolution Institute:

 Engraving after painting by George Carter titled "The engagement between the Quebec frigate, Captain George Farmer, and the Surveillante frigate, Monsieur Couedic," 1779-1780.
Depiction of the aftermath of the battle between the French frigate Surveillante and the English frigate Quebec, off the Brittany coast. The fierceness of the battle and chivalry shown on both sides as the Quebec exploded and sunk was memorialized in literature and art.

The scene shows British and French sailors, many naked, clinging to lifeboats while other are repelling off the sides of the burning Quebec.  Contains engraved text describing the battle and its aftermath & including obituary of Capt. Du Couédic.


We locate an example at the Society of the Cincinnati and the British Museum (acquired in 1877).   We note an example of the map was offered in a Maggs Brothers Catalog 263 in 1910 (#342).

Condition Description
Toned and soiled. Significant abrasions, primarily at the top left.
Parker 1911 / Naval battles (79.b)