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French ironclad Magenta
Magenta and Napoléon III in Brest
Magenta, Napoléon and Solférino anchored in Brest harbour.
Career (France) Ensign of France.svg
Name: Magenta
Namesake: Battle of Magenta
Builder: Brest
Laid down: 22 June 1859
Launched: 22 June 1861
Fate: Exploded on 31 October 1875
General characteristics
Class & type: Magenta-class ironclad
Displacement: 7,129 tonnes 
Propulsion: Sail
1,000 hp (746 kW) steam engine, 8 boilers
Speed: 12 knots (22 km/h; 14 mph)
Endurance: 3 months of food, 700 tonnes of coal
Complement: 681 men
  • 10 × 240 mm (9.4 in) guns
  • 4 × 190 mm (7.5 in) guns
  • 50 × rifled 30-pounders

Magenta was a broadside ironclad of the French Navy, lead ship of her class. She served as flagship of the Mediterranean squadron.

On 31 October 1875, a fire started aboard. The crew attempted to wet the gunpowder magazines and fight the fire, to no avail. When it became clear that the ship could not be saved, the crew abandoned ship, and the Magenta exploded shortly after. She sank in 15 metres of water in the military harbour of Toulon.

At the time of the accident, Magenta had a cargo of Carthaginian antiques, notably 2080 punic stelae (Tophet, 2nd century BC) and a marble statue of Vibia Sabina (Thasos, c. 127-128 AD), found in 1874 by the Pricot de Sainte-Marie mission.

The wreck was located in April 1994. Fragments of stelae have been since recovered.[1] The statue has been partially recovered, though the head was too damaged to be rejoined to the rest of the statue. The fragments are on display at the Louvre.[2]


  • de Balincourt, Captain; Vincent-Bréchignac, Captain (1974). "The French Navy of Yesterday: Ironclad Frigates, Pt. II". Akron, OH: F.P.D.S.. pp. 23–25. 
  • Gardiner, Robert, ed (1979). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1860–1905. Greenwich: Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-8317-0302-4. 

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