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Last Updated: Monday, 7 March, 2005, 01:38 GMT
Eyebrow erased after Nelson find
Model of Nelson
The model of Nelson receives some tender loving care
A waxwork model of Lord Nelson, Britain's greatest naval hero, has undergone cosmetic surgery to remove half of his right eyebrow.

The alterations were made at the Royal Naval Museum in Portsmouth to make the figure historically accurate.

Lord Nelson, killed during the Battle of Trafalgar 200 years ago, lost his right arm and sight in one eye.

But historian Dr Ann-Mary Hills has discovered that a French cannonball also claimed part of his eyebrow.

The waxwork model was made in 1998 and has been amended in time for this year's bicentennial commemorations of the Battle of Trafalgar and Nelson's death.

'Exactly right'

Museum curator of artefacts Richard Noyce said: "As if losing his right arm and the sight in one eye was not bad enough.

"Nelson, Britain's greatest naval hero, who was killed at the Battle of Trafalgar 200 years ago, also lost half of one of his eyebrows and had an ugly scar on his forehead that he tried to conceal.

As if losing his right arm and the sight in one eye was not bad enough
Richard Noyce

"The public always want to know what Nelson looked like - was he really very short, for instance?

"We thought the figure was pretty accurate then, but recent research has shown that we also needed to remove half of his right eyebrow to get it exactly right."

Dr Hills, who lectures about Nelson and is writing a book on his health, said many later portraits showed him with the right-side of his face turned away or covered by his hair.

She believes this was to hide both the scarred eyebrow and another scar above his right eye.

Cannonball fire

Dr Hills said the eyebrow injury, which destroyed the hair-bearing tissue of the outer part of the brow, was caused at the siege of Calvi on July 12, 1794, when Nelson lost the sight in his right eye.

A French cannonball fired by the defenders of the Corsican city hit sandbags below Nelson sending pebbles into his eye and eyebrow, she added.

Dr Hills said: "Nelson described his eye as being very badly cut down but what I think he meant was his eyebrow because, to all intents and purposes, his eye itself seemed normal.

"He never lost the eyeball and he would blink and turn his eye normally."

Dr Hills said she was pleased the museum had altered the model to fit in with her interpretation of Nelson's injury.

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