Figurehead of the HMS Orestes
© National Museum of the Royal Navy
Photo: © National Museum of the Royal Navy
National Museum of the Royal Navy, Portsmouth
This male figurehead is a portrayal of Orestes, son of Agamemnon and king of Mycenae and Argos. He avenged his father’s death by killing his mother. The clean shaven male bust wears a helmet with armour protecting his upper arms over which is draped a classical tunic.
No records for when it was removed from the ship possibly sometime between 1905 and 1911. It was probably at Portsmouth before 1911 but is not listed in the Admiralty catalogue of this date, although it is listed in the Portsmouth Museum Catalogue of 1911. It now resides in the Portsmouth Dockyard Museum.
HMS 'Orestes' 18 guns sloop, 460bm, 110ft was built in 1924 at Portsmouth Dockyard and was launched from there in May of the same year. It is the fifth ship of its name and was sent to the Douro River on the outbreak of the civil war in Portugal in 1832. HMS 'Orestes' also served in the Mediterranean and on the Cape of Good Hope station, before returning to Portsmouth. She became a coal depot in 1852. In about 1911, Orestes was sold for commercial use.
David Pulvertaft ‘The Warship Figureheads of Portsmouth’ (Stroud, 2009) p.48
National Museum of the Royal Navy
National Museum of the Royal Navy, HM Naval Base (PP66), Portsmouth PO1 3NH
Ownership can be cited online
Accessible to public
Data verified by owner