A silver and wood model of HMS Victory by H Wylie, showing ‘Victory’ in her first commission 1780, constructed from ships’ timbers by the artist Harold Wyllie (1880-1973), fully rigged with silver sails over an African oak and ebony hull with detailed decks, blue and gilt gunwales, the upper gun ports open with guns, on a cast bronze waterline base set in a carved wooden plinth, inscribed with battle honours, and within a glass case. Together with two letters of provenance from Harold Wyllie, one on HMS Implacable headed notepaper, the other on Alloway Place, Ayr headed paper, dated 1937 and 1945 respectively.
Footnote: Harold Wyllie was the eldest son of the noted marine artist William Wyllie (1851-1931). Following his father’s interests, Harold became a significant artist in his own right, concentrating on the developments of the sailing ship in Royal Naval history. He became an expert in marine archaeology and was appointed to restore HMS Victory to her Trafalgar condition. His letters state that he was given the timbers from HMS Victory by Admiral Sir Christopher Cradock (1862-1914) who had commissioned him to build another model of the Victory. This model was commissioned by a Mr Adam Wood of Skeldon, Ayrshire who intended it to be used as a table centrepiece and ‘it was therefore kept as simple as possible to avoid damage when shown out of the case’. The model was also exhibited in the Royal Academy in 1912 ‘as a piece of sculpture before ship models were prohibited from their galleries’. Rear Admiral Sir Christopher Cradock KCVO CB SGM entered the Royal Navy in 1875, serving with distinction in the Mediterranean and was promoted to Rear Admiral in 1910. Stating that he would rather choose to die either hunting or engaged in battle. He was killed in the Battle of Coronel in the pursuit of Admiral Spee’s fleet during the First World War. Skeldon House was built in 1760 by General Fullerton to an Adam design. Purchased by the Duke of Portland in 1867, the house was improved in 1908 by the architect James Miller for Adam Wood.The whole estate was sold in 1926, at which time the model of HMS Victory was acquired by the vendor’s grandfather.*Note- References ‘Royal Academy Exhibitors 1905-1970 Vol VI’ page 339.