The Death of Nelson, 21 October 1805, by Arthur William Devis (1807)
In the most iconic image of Nelson’s final moments in the cockpit of the Victory, the admiral appears as an almost Christlike figure, surrounded by a group of loyal friends and officers. On his right, the Rev. Alexander Scott continues to massage his chest. Above him, on his left, his friend and captain Thomas Hardy stands solemnly over him, protective to the last. Beneath Hardy, the Victory's purser, Walter Burke, supports Nelson's pillow. Beside Burke, Nelson's steward, Henry Chevalier, looks to the surgeon William Beatty, who takes the admiral's failing pulse.
Devis was permitted to spend a week aboard the Victory when she returned to Portsmouth, in order to prepare his painting, making sketches of the officers (including a posthumous sketch of Nelson), and one of the musket-ball that killed him. As such, it’s probably the most accurate representation of many of the men present at Nelson’s passing, though Devis did take some artistic licence. The admiral’s death is fairly sanitised, not a drop of blood to be seen, and Hardy, at 6’4”, wouldn’t have been able to stand upright beneath the low deckhead of the orlop!