This exquisite copper-plate engraving, christened "Navigation", hails from Richard Blome's revered "The Gentleman's Recreation." The scene encapsulates the art of 17th-century maritime navigation, uniting the mythical with the functional in an allegorical tableau.
Central to the composition is a sea nymph, lounging with grace and authority against a craggy rock. An innovative adaptation of a ship's rigging creates a makeshift canopy for her, a sail stretched overhead, its corner held firmly in the nymph's left hand as if she commands both wind and wave.
While her left hand clutches the sail, her right hand is the guardian of a compass, signifying the direction and purpose. At her feet, an array of navigational tools sprawls across the rocky base, includng a sextant, sea charts, a drawing compass and straight edge and a globe.
Drawing the viewer’s gaze deeper into the backdrop is a majestic sailing vessel. It's a colossal four-masted square rigged ship, each mast standing tall and resolute. The cross of St. George flutters with pride from its sails, hinting at English origin and dominance on high seas during the era.
This plate pays homage to George Legge, the Baron of Dartmouth. The Baron, with his extensive titles, including Master General of the Ordnance, was a testament to English nobility and the maritime prowess of the age.