WILLIAM HENRY BISHOP ~ “Under Siege – The Bombardment of Tripoli by the USS Constitution, 1804”

William Bishop is a British artist and paints almost entirely in oils producing finely detailed works which are carefully researched for historical accuracy. He has painted everything from Viking ships to windsurfers, and historical naval battles to contemporary yachting scenes. In recent years, whilst still considering himself primarily a marine artist William, with a love of wildlife, has also taken to painting animals of all kinds.

The 44-gun United States Frigate Constitution, also known as Old Ironsides, is a three-masted wooden-hulled heavy frigate of the United States Navy. She is the world’s oldest ship of any type still afloat. She was launched in 1797, one of six original frigates authorized for construction by the Naval Act of 1794 and the third constructed.  The name “Constitution” was among ten names submitted to President George Washington by Secretary of War Timothy Pickering in March of 1795. Joshua Humphreys designed the frigates to be the young Navy’s capital ships, and so Constitution and her sister ships were larger and more heavily armed and built than standard frigates of the period. She was built at Edmund Hartt’s shipyard in the North End of Boston, Massachusetts. Her first duties were to provide protection for American merchant shipping during the Quasi-War with France and to defeat the Barbary pirates in the First Barbary War.  The U.S. paid tribute to the Barbary States during the Quasi-War to ensure that American merchant ships were not harassed and seized.  In 1801, Yusuf Karamanli of Tripoli was dissatisfied that the United States was paying him less than they paid Algiers, and he demanded an immediate payment of $250,000.   In response, Thomas Jefferson sent a squadron of frigates to protect American merchant ships in the Mediterranean and to pursue peace with the Barbary States.

The action in this painting depicts the USS Constitution bombarding Tripoli, with other smaller vessels from the American fleet fighting further inshore on August 3, 1804. The U.S. squadron, led by Commodore Edward Preble in the flagship Constitution is successfully shelling forts of the Barbary pirates at close range.  During action Captain Stephen Decatur led a boarding party which captured three pirate craft.

Bishop’s works are represented in museums and collections including the following: Royal Naval Museum, Portsmouth; a depiction of ‘Windy Corner’ at the Battle of Jutland. The Mary Rose Trust; the Mary Rose, King Henry VIII’s warship, both in her recovery cradle from life in watercolour and also the definitive version of how she originally looked in oils. Warrior Museum; HMS Warrior. The City of Bristol; John Cabot’s ship, Matthew of 1497. The Minnesota Marine Art Museum, America- A monumental battle scene to mark the bi-centenary of the Battle of Trafalgar, 2005.  Dictionary: Sea Painters of Europe and America 3rd Edition, by E.H.H Archibald. Private collections:  America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Africa, Oman, Gibraltar, Germany, The Falkland Islands, Belgium and Denmark, and the UK.

This work is signed by the artist and is presented in excellent condition in a dark wood frame.





Born 1942

Title:   “Under Siege – The Bombardment of Tripoli by the USS Constitution, 1804

Date:   2008

Framed Size:   Height 34 inches         Width  59  inches