The 3ft x 4ft 4in (91cm x 1.32m) watercolour was painted in 1878 by the British landscapist Andrew McCallum (1821-1902) and depicts a ferocious fire that broke out in Clerkenwell two years earlier, in July 1876.
Consigned from a private source in north Devon to BHL’s sale on January 22-24, it sold for £5800 to a London buyer against a £1000-1500 guide.
Daniel Goddard, picture specialist at BHL, said: “It was a really interesting picture with fascinating detail, including a leak in the pipe in the foreground with a jet of water under pressure spurting out.”
A mural based on McCallum’s watercolour dedicated to the fire brigade who tackled the blaze is believed to have been displayed in Clerkenwell but was later destroyed during the Blitz. The painting also carries a dedication to The Gallant Captain Shaw And The Brave Fire Brigade.