An aquatint after Hodges’ The Consequences of War engraved by Thomas Medland, which has been bought by the National Maritime Museum.

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Shortly after announcing that the museum was trying to trace The Effects of Peace and The Consequences of War, whose last known appearance was at a Christie's sale in 1813, the owner of Grosvenor Prints, Nigel Talbot, contacted the museum believing that he had two original aquatints after Hodges in the basement of his shop.

Geoff Quilley, curator at the NMM, inspected the 2ft 6in x 20in (76 x 51cm) prints and confirmed they were genuinely after Hodges and engraved by Thomas Medland.

This makes them the only known visual record of the enigmatic War and Peace works.

The National Maritime Museum has agreed to purchase these prints and will be adding them to the current Hodges exhibition that runs until November 21.

Mr Quilley believes that the prints were made shortly after the paintings were first displayed in 1794-5. The exhibition was closed in January 1795 after the Duke of York considered the paintings sympathetic to the French Revolution.

Prints of War and Peace were advertised at the time of the exhibition, but it was assumed that they were never produced following the controversy surrounding the works. This discovery proves otherwise.

"Interestingly, these prints don't seem to be overtly radical," said Mr Quilley. "But it's clear to see why they upset the Duke of York. Since they question the value of pursuing war, they could hardly be described as patriotic."

The prints are still in their original frames and under original glass. They include the title inscribed on the glass, rather than on the plate itself, as is usually the case with 18th century prints.

Mr Talbot, who has had the prints in his shop for about six months, said that three or four museums had contacted him with regard to purchasing the aquatints since their importance came to light. The whereabouts of the original paintings remains unknown.

• Grosvenor Prints will shortly be selling off a great deal more of their 125,000 items of stock, in particular many of their framed prints. After 25 years, they are leaving their site at 28 Shelton Street and moving to a new premises 150 yards up the road at 19 Shelton Street. The sale opens at 23 Shelton Street on October 13 and will include reductions of up to 50 per cent.