Perry's Victory depicts a key battle of the War of 1812, The Battle of Lake Erie, in which Oliver Hazard Perry led the American forces to victory over the British. Perry's flagship, the Lawrence, had caught fire and his crew suffered heavy casualties. The survivors, including Perry, rowed to another American ship, the Niagara, and continued the battle, outmaneuvering the British.
Perry is the original speaker of the famous quote "We have met the enemy and they are ours." His battle cry at Lake Erie was "Don't give up the ship." Perry is also known for overcoming near-death experiences in battle and from illness, attributed to "Perry's Luck." The victory at the Battle of Lake Erie is attributed to this mysterious good fortune.
Ohio artist William Powell created the painting Perry's Victory as the first piece of artwork commissioned by the State of Ohio. But after completing it, Powell asked for three times the agreed-upon price, refusing to give up the painting. Instead, he exhibited the painting around the nation and received another commission for a similar piece which now hangs in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. Finally, the State of Ohio met Perry's higher price, and the painting hangs in the Rotunda at the Ohio Statehouse.