Painted c.1806, the 20in x 2ft (52 x 62cm) oil on canvas shows Nelson’s collapse on the deck of HMS Victory, at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.
The canvas came from a private collection in Somerset, and was catalogued as ‘probably’ an autograph variant and attributed to Samuel Drummond (1765-1844). The artist created a number of variants on the theme, with examples in the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich and the Government Art Collection. Estimated at a conservative £2000-4000, it was hammered down to a Nelson collector for a record sum for a Drummond work at auction.
Specialist Richard Kay told ATG that there was “just a slight question, amply disproved by the £21,500 hammer price, that it might have been a copy rather than an autograph variant” (also see Letters, ATG No 2303).
According to the Art Sales Index, only one other picture by Drummond has exceeded £10,000 at auction before, a scene depicting the Battle of the Nile, which sold for £18,000 at Christie’s South Kensington in November, 2003.
Top lot at Lawrences was a pair of Italianate landscapes by Drummond’s contemporary, John Glover (1767-1849). The 22in x 2ft 9in (57 x 85cm) oil on canvases are typical of the romantic Claude Lorrain-inspired landscapes which gained Glover the nickname ‘The English Claude’.
The pair, which had last appeared on the market in 1977, exceeded hopes of £12,000-16,000 to sell for £22,000.
Although not in the same financial league as his best-known landscapes of Australia, which can command over £1m, it was a good sum for a European subject and follows the £13,000 fetched at Chiswick Auctions in June for a Welsh view by the artist.