This action-packed painting was created by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris (c. 1863–1930), an American artist known for making artworks inspired by the history of Britain’s North American colonies and the United States. This particular scene depicts the final showdown between Edward Teach (more famously known as the pirate Blackbeard) and sailors from the British Navy. On the morning of November 22, 1718, Lieutenant Robert Maynard launched a surprise attack on Blackbeard’s position near Ocracoke Island, off the coast of North Carolina. The pirates reportedly tried to sail away, but when it became apparent that escape was not possible, Blackbeard opened fire on the British Navy. As the story goes, Lieutenant Robert Maynard was able to lure Blackbeard into prematurely making an attempt to board the British ships. In the hand-to-hand melee that ensued, Robert Maynard and the British sailors were able to overwhelm the pirates and kill Blackbeard. After the battle of Ocracoke, Lieutenant Robert Maynard traveled to Virginia, as his expedition to track down and attack the pirate hideout had been authorized and funded by Governor Alexander Spotswood of Virginia. With the lieutenant went the severed head of Blackbeard, which was subsequently put on public display in Virginia as a warning against piracy.
Written by C. Keith Hansley
- Outlaws of the Atlantic: Sailors, Pirates, and Motley Crews in the Age of Sail by Marcus Rediker. Boston: Beacon Press, 2014.