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American Revolution naval battle – Bon Homme Richard against HM


Continental Navy Commodore John Paul Jones and his crew are fighting what appears to be a losing battle in September of 1779 against the HMS Serapis, whose captain -- Robert Pearson --  orders them to surrender.


Jones will have none of it.


“I have not begun to fight!” he declares, launching a bold counter attack in which he and his men ram the Serapis, hook their ship to it, board it and assault the ship with musket fire and hand grenades. Jones ultimately captures the Serapis – embarrassing the British navy and adding to Jones’ legendary status as one of the great early leaders of the U.S. Navy.  


American painter Thomas Birch was only born the year the famous battle took place but he would become America’s first great ship portraitist. Though some of his most famous works depict naval battles during The War of 1812, his original painting of the Bon Homme Richard battle must have been a beauty. The piece made such an impression that Philadelphia’s Frank G. Stewart of 226 S. Eleventh Street included it in a series of prints published in the early 1900s. Our black and white print is an original of that series and our research indicates this was copyrighted in 1907.


Entitled “The battle between the 'Bon Homme Richard’ Com. John Paul Jones of the Continental Navy and ‘The Serapis’ Capt. Robert Pearson of the British Navy September 22nd 1779,” it’s an attractive piece that becomes even more engaging when viewed beneath a magnifying glass. The Union Jack on the Serapis displays nicely as do the cannon blasts coming from both ships – the smoke appearing in brilliant white plumes thanks to the full moon above. 

The image is 13 inches wide by 7.5 inches tall and sits freely (unpasted) in an old frame measuring 20.25 inches wide by 14.25inches tall.


Condition: Print appears to be in an original, or at least old, black wooden frame. Print shows its 100-plus year age but is in overall good shape. Printed on a heavy stock of paper, the image has a nice beveled border about an inch out as if it’s matted. There’s a small nick near the top left of the image and another near the top right corner. There is some foxing in several places on the left half of the image as well as a light spot of foxing on the “M” in “COM. JOHN PAUL JONES”.


Makes for an ideal addition for collectors of the American Revolution, ships, military history and maritime history. Also makes for a nice touch in a den, study or any room with books or soft lighting.


  • Shipping Weight: 8lbs
  • 1 Units in Stock

This product was added to our catalog on Saturday 24 September, 2011.