Ivan Konstantinovich Aivazovsky, The Battle of Chesme at Night, 1848

The Battle of Chesme was fought July 5-7, 1770 during the Russo-Turkish War, and was the first in a series of naval battles where the Ottomans suffered severe losses. The battle occurred near Chesme, Turkey in the Aegean Sea. The Russian fleet was led by Commander Alexei Grigoryevich Orlov (we’ve mentioned him before in the April 10th post about the Russian imposter “Princess Tarakanova”). Even though the Turkish fleet was larger, the Russians managed to deploy a fireship, which is a ship deliberately set on fire and then steered into enemy fleets. Fireships would cause panic and force the enemy to break formation, or better yet, catch fire to their boats as it did at this battle. The hot fire set against the cool moonlight makes for a most dramatic painting.

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