Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Le vaisseau "Le St-Philbert"

Minor post/snippet... the following caught my eye when we visited the church opposite the Chateau de Noirmoutier...


I blame it on too much Aubrey in my life..  but the model was absolutely exquisite, and I couldn't figure out why it was in a church so I took some pictures and thought to find what I could about it next time iw as near the web..



According to the label:


She is "Le Saint-Philbert" - the 1802 refers to when the model was made rather than the ship, but I think this was made fairly close to when the ship was in use..

She was made for Auguste Jacobsen (the Jacobsen family were important in the development of Noirmoutier - three generations of them transformed the island building dikes, the harbour front, developing the salt business etc) by a local watch maker - I have no idea why it was made, other than that the ship is named after after the monk Saint Philibert, who in 674 who founded a monastery on what is now Noirmoutier town so their is a link..

She is a fairly typical third/fourth rate of the age, though small by Napoleonic standards - 40 to 50 guns with two complete gun decks, usually plus a few smaller carriage guns mounted on the gaillards); and the dimensions are in the label above but I have had no luck whatsoever in finding out any more about her... it may well be that the model is just representative??

Ex Voto refers to the fact that she is a votive offering to a saint or divinity as fulfiment of a vow, or in gratitude or devotion - so that may account for the name, it certainly accounts for why the model is in the church. I did find reference to an event in 1747 when a British ship of 50 guns (now is that significant), the Maidstone, hit a rock and sank while on blockade of the island, so may be that?

If anyone has any other information feel free to share..  ...  lovely model though

8 comments:

  1. Your right, you'll find these models in churches all over the place, and are usually offerings of thanks for a safe voyage or surviving a catastrophe at sea.

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    1. Cheers Joppy - yes, can understand that, but why a war ship I wonder...

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    2. Looking at the quality of the model I would guess it could be from a naval officer thankful that he'd survived the Napoleonic wars.

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    3. Joppy - possibly... we know who it was made for, and by who, but I'd love to know why - history just leaves us with those little unanswered questions... so one of the more important members of Noirmoutier society at the time commissions an (expensive) model war ship some time in the last quarter of the 18th Century as an offering..... could well be on behalf of a friend.... the options are limitless... :o)

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  2. What a wonderful find. Thank you for sharing it.

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    1. Thanks CK - I am at heart a military historian - I am fascinated by such things so it really wasn't hard work, and the research was a pleasure over a lunchtime....

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  3. I have run across a fair number of ship models from the Napoleonic Wars. Boston's Museum Of Fine Arts has an excellent assortment. They were almost all the work of prisoners of war, since Bonaparte stopped the normal cartel of prisoner exchanges. They had a lot of time on their hands to plan, collect materials, and build.

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    1. Thanks G. TF - you're right - there are even some exquisite examples from my local Napoleonic prison Portchester Castle.. and made from all sorts of materials as you'd expect but mainly animal bone..

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