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Louis Letouche
The Esmeralda, Tall Ship of the Chilean Navy

C. 1996



The Esmeralda by Louis Letouche (French 1924-2015) oil painting on linen canvas, stretched over board framed Framed size: 14 x 22 inches Superb oil painting by the well listed French marine artist Louis Letouche (1924-2015). The painting portrays the Chilean navy tall ship, The Esmeralda. The ship is the sixth to carry the name Esmeralda. The first was the frigate Esmeralda captured from the Spanish at Callao, Peru, by Admiral Lord Thomas Alexander Cochrane of the Chilean Navy, in a bold incursion on the night of 5 November 1820. The second was the corvette Esmeralda of the Chilean Navy which, set against superior forces, fought until sunk with colors flying on 21 May 1879 at the Battle of Iquique. These events mark important milestones for the Chilean Navy and the ship's name is said to evoke its values of courage and sacrifice. Construction began in Cádiz, Spain, in 1946. She was intended to become Spain's national training ship. During her construction in 1947 the yard in which she was being built suffered catastrophic explosions, which damaged the ship and placed the yard on the brink of bankruptcy. Work on the ship was temporarily halted. In 1950 Chile and Spain entered into negotiations in which Spain offered to repay debts incurred to Chile as a result of the Spanish Civil War in the form of manufactured products, including the not yet completed Esmeralda. Chile accepted the offer and the ship was formally transferred to the ownership of Chile in 1951. Work then continued on the ship. She was finally launched on 12 May 1953 before an audience of 5,000 people. She was christened by Mrs. Raquel Vicuña de Orrego using a bottle wrapped in the national colors of Spain and Chile. She was delivered as a four-masted topsail schooner to the Government of Chile on 15 June 1954, Captain Horacio Cornejo Tagle in command. Her sister ship is the training ship for the Spanish Navy, the four-masted topsail schooner Juan Sebastián Elcano. Sometime in the 1970s Esmeralda's rigging was changed to a four-masted barquentine by replacing the fore gaffsail (course sail) by two main staysails. The third (top) main staysail is still in place. She has now five staysails, three topsails, six jibbs, three course gaff sails, four square sails, 21 all in all. Her first voyage was to the Canary Islands and then on to New Orleans, where a distillation plant was installed. She then proceeded through the Panama Canal and arrived at Valparaíso on 1 September 1954 to much fanfare. Since her commissioning, Esmeralda has been a training ship for the Chilean Navy. She has visited more than 300 ports worldwide acting as a floating embassy for Chile. She participated in Operation Sail at New York City in 1964, 1976 and 1986, and the Osaka World Sail in 1983. She also participated in International Regattas of Sail in 1964, 1976, 1982 and 1990 winning the coveted Cutty Sark Trophy in the last two participations. In 2016, Esmeralda visited New Zealand to participate in the 75th Anniversary Celebrations of the foundation of the Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) The painting is by the very talented French marine artist, Louis Letouche (1924-2015). The artist began painting passionately in 1958. Self taught, he turned to marine portraiture in which he excelled. Never seeking fame or the highlight, the artists work has been relatively unknown until now a couple of years after his death. We are very pleased to introduce you to his work, having acquired a number of marine portraits by this artist, all of which came from the artists estate. For the collector of maritime paintings and history, they offer a fascinating and unique insight into our maritime past - and for any marine themed interior, they make wonderful interior decoration. They offer potential as a single painting on the "den" wall, pairs hung either side of a fireplace or even whole sets grouped together to really make a powerful statement within a themed space. Condition report: The painting is in very good condition. If you will excuse the pun, we can "ship" this painting worldwide!


  • Creator
    Louis Letouche (1924 - 2015, French)
  • Creation Year
    C. 1996
  • Dimensions
    Height: 14 in. (35.56 cm)Width: 22 in. (55.88 cm)Depth: 1 in. (2.54 cm)
  • Medium
  • Movement & Style
  • Period
  • Condition
  • Gallery Location
    Cirencester, GB
  • Reference Number
    1stDibs: LU50932591481

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    Ships From: Cirencester, United Kingdom
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About the Seller
4.9 / 5
Located in Cirencester, United Kingdom
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