A Trumeau Mirror, overall size 136 x 163 cm. (53 x 64.1/4 in. Mirror panels 14 inches each 36cm. Mirrored panels 14 inches each (36 cm)
A frigate is any of several types of warship, the term having been used for ships of various sizes and roles over the last few centuries. In the 17th century, the term was used for any warship built for speed and maneuverability, the description often used being "frigate-built". These could be warships carrying their principal battery of carriage-mounted guns on a single deck or on two decks (with further smaller carriage-mounted guns usually carried on the forecastle and quarterdeck of the vessel). The term was generally used for ships too small to stand in the line of battle, although early line-of-battle ships were frequently referred to as frigates when they were built for speed. In the 18th century, the term referred to ships which were usually as long as a ship-of-the-line and were square-rigged on all three masts (full rigged), but were faster and with lighter armament, used for patrolling and escort. In the definition adopted by the British Admiralty, they were rated ships of at least 28 guns, carrying their principal armament upon a single continuous deck—the upper deck, while ships-of-the-line possessed two or more continuous decks bearing batteries of guns. The classic sailing frigate, well-known today for its role in the Napoleonic wars, can be traced back to French developments in the second quarter of the 18th century. The French-built Médée of 1740 is often regarded as the first example of this type. These ships were square-rigged and carried all their main guns on a single continuous upper deck. The lower deck, known as the "gun deck", now carried no armament, and functioned as a "berth deck" where the crew lived, and was in fact placed below the waterline of the new frigates. A total of fifty-nine French sailing frigates were built between 1777 and 1790, with a standard design averaging a hull length of 135 ft (41 m) and an average draught of 13 ft (4.0 m). The new frigates recorded sailing speeds of up to 14 knots (26 km/h; 16 mph), significantly faster than their predecessor vessels. They were able to fight with all their guns when the seas were so rough that comparable two-deckers had to close the gun-ports on their lower decks (see the Action of 13 January 1797, for an example when this was decisive). Like the larger 74 which was developed at the same time, the new frigates sailed well and were good fighting vessels due to a combination of long hulls and low upperworks compared to vessels of comparable size and firepower. The Royal Navy captured a handful of the new French frigates during the War of the Austrian Succession (1740–1748) and were impressed by them, particularly for their inshore handling capabilities. They soon built copies and started to adapt the type to their own needs, setting the standard for other frigates as the leading naval power. The first British frigates carried 28 guns including an upper deck battery of twenty-four 9-pounder guns (the remaining four smaller guns were carried on the quarter deck) but soon developed into fifth-rate ships of 32 or 36 guns including an upper deck battery of twenty-six 12-pounder guns, with the remaining six or ten smaller guns carried on the quarter deck and forecastle. From around 1778, a larger "heavy" frigate was developed with a main battery of twenty-six or twenty-eight 18-pounder guns (again with the remaining ten smaller guns carried on the quarter deck and forecastle). Confusing, the lower deck of Royal Navy frigates continued to be called the "gundeck" even where that deck contained no guns or gunports. In the United States Navy this lower deck became known as "berth deck." Both British and American frigates could (and usually did) additionally carry smaller carriage-mounted guns on their quarter decks and forecastles (the superstructures above the upper deck). Technically, rated ships with fewer than 28 guns could not be classed as frigates but as "post ships"; however, in common parlance most post ships were often described as "frigates", the same casual misuse of the term being extended to smaller two-decked ships that were too small to stand in the line of battle. Royal Navy frigates of the late 18th century included the 1780-vintage Perseverance class, which measured around 900 tons burthen and carried 36 guns; this successful class was followed by numerous other classes that measured over 1,000 tons burthen and carried 38 guns. n 1797, three of the United States Navy's first six major ships were rated as 44-gun frigates (or "super-frigates"), which operationally carried fifty-six to sixty 24-pounder long guns and 32-pounder or 42-pounder carronades on two decks; by all regards they were exceptionally powerful and tough. These ships were so well-armed that they were often regarded as equal to ships of the line, and after a series of losses at the outbreak of the War of 1812, Royal Navy fighting instructions ordered British frigates (usually of 38 guns or less) to never engage American frigates at any less than a 2:1 advantage. USS Constitution, preserved as a museum ship by the US Navy, is the oldest commissioned warship afloat, and is a surviving example of a frigate from the Age of Sail. Constitution and her sister ships President and United States were created in a response to deal with the Barbary Coast pirates and in conjunction with the Naval Act of 1794. The three big frigates, when built, had a distinctive building pattern which minimised "hogging" (in which the centre of the keel rises while both ends drop) and improves hydrodynamic efficiency. The hull was designed so that all the weight from the guns was upon the keel itself. Joshua Humphreys proposed that only live oak, a tree that grew only in America, should be used to build these ships. The method was to use diagonal riders, eight on each side that sat a 45 degree angle. These beams of live oak were about two feet wide and around a foot thick and helped to maintain the shape of the hull, serving also to reduce flexibility and to minimize impacts. These ideas were considered revolutionary in the late 18th and early 19th century. A three-layer method was used in which the planks along the sides of the hull were laid horizontally across the ribs, making a crossing or checker board pattern. The sides of the ship could be as thick as 25 inches, and were able to absorb substantial damage. The strength of this braced construction earned USS Constitution the nickname "Old Ironsides".
Francis Holman (1729–1784) was a British maritime painter, little recognised during his own lifetime, but whose paintings are now sought after. He is also notable as the teacher of Thomas Luny. He was born in Ramsgate and baptized on 14 November 1729 at St Laurence-in-Thanet, Ramsgate. He was the eldest son and second of six children of Francis Holman (1696–1739), and his wife, Anne Long (1707–1757). His father was a master mariner, and his grandfather a Ramsgate cooper. His younger brother, Captain John Holman (1733–1816), maintained the family shipping business and remained close to Francis throughout his life. Young Francis would certainly have been immersed in the maritime world during his up-bringing; the legacy of this early knowledge is a wealth of detail and accuracy in his later work. Francis Holman lived in at least five addresses in Wapping on the Thames in London. He married, firstly, Elizabeth, and they produced 3 sons; John (b. 1757), and two more sons, both named Francis, who died in infancy. Elizabeth's death is unrecorded, but on 7 May 1781 he married, secondly, Jane Maxted (c.1736–1790). He was apparently childless when he wrote his will in 1783. Holman's earliest works are portraits of ships, commonly commissioned for ships' captains. From 1767 to 1772 he exhibited eleven pictures at the Free Society of Artists, and he began to produce pictures of shipyards and the general life of maritime Britain in the late eighteenth century. By 1773 Holman had taken on Thomas Luny as an apprentice; Luny later became a major maritime painter in his own right. With the American War of Independence and the strong contemporary public interest in the Royal Navy, it was natural that Holman should turn his talents towards more patriotic themes. Between 1774 and 1784 he sent seventeen pictures, mostly of the Royal Navy or sea battles, for exhibition at the Royal Academy.His most notable painting of the American War of Independence is The Moonlight Battle off Cape St Vincent, 16 January 1780 (shown right). Holman died in Wapping on 29 November 1784. Captain John Holman brought his body back to Ramsgate for burial on 4 December in Jane's family vault at St Laurence, where the vicar recorded his death as due to "lethargy". According to Lionel Cust in the Dictionary of National Biography, Holman's work "met with unmerited neglect". More recently, his paintings have achieved good prices at auction and form significant collections at museums, not least the National Maritime Museum. His attention to detail and in-depth knowledge of his subject have left us with a valuable record of eighteenth century maritime life, and consequently his reputation as a major marine painter has grown. His importance as the teacher of Thomas Luny has also enhanced his reputation.