The Return of the Hermione ~ C’est Magnifique!

On Friday, June 5th, the newly constructed replica of the 1779 French frigate, Hermione, arrived in Yorktown after a 3,800 mile voyage across the Atlantic.   In 1780, the French general, Marquis de Lafayette, was aboard the Hermione bringing support from the French, eventually fighting alongside General George Washington in the battle of Yorktown against the British in the Revolutionary War.  The Hermione played an important part in the battle by participating in the naval blockade and assault on the British from the York River.  The weekend was a celebration of the return of the Hermione!

For me, as a maritime artist, seeing the replica ship in person brings the history to life.  We went to see the Hermione in Yorktown on Sunday, docked next to one of our local replicas, the Godspeed of Jamestown. The Hermione is how the French would say, “C’est Magnifique”.  It is simply magnificent.  It is a work of art, created by highly skilled craftsmen who were trained to build the ship the old fashioned way, using 18th century shipbuilding techniques.  

It took over 17 years to build at a cost of 31 million dollars!  The ship has an overall length of 216 feet!  Both the height and the length of the ship are awe-inspiring.  The Hermione dwarfed the much smaller (yet impressive in its own right) Godspeed.  

Beyond the impressive size of the ship, one can’t help but notice the complex rigging, the colorful array of flags, an abundance of canvas sail, a bright, royal blue painted stern, and the name L’Hermione  in raised yellow letters.  

The attention to detail throughout the ship could drive an artist nuts, if he/she were to attempt a perfect rendering!  Look at this close-up of the rigging!!!

Beachgoers staked their spot in the sand; tourists lined up to tour the ship; people parked themselves on benches, chairs, and rocks, and photographers sought out the best vantage points to take their pictures.  

We were all there to marvel at something new, which represents so much from the past.  It was heartwarming from a maritime enthusiast’s perspective to see so much interest in this ship.

The Fifes and Drums of Yorktown performed while we were there, playing and marching along the Riverwalk Landing, adding a nice celebratory touch to the festivities.  

Knowing it was going to be leaving Yorktown, Monday at 1PM, we retraced our route to Yorktown to watch the Hermione set sail, departing for the rest of its voyage on up the east coast.  The winds cooperated and the grand ship sailed off into the distance, escorted by the schooner Alliance of Yorktown.  

The Hermione has been and will continue to be the subject of many maritime paintings.  Hopefully, one day I will add one of my own to my resume of ship paintings.  

Below is a video with more about the ship and its history.

Thank you as always for following my journal.  Please check back soon to see what’s on my easel! 


One of the joys of being an artist is having the freedom to follow my passion...
— William R. Beebe
What's next? Drawing by William R. Beebe

What's next?

Drawing by William R. Beebe