The 19in x 2ft 3in (49.5 x 69cm) oil on canvas shows a cricket match being played at White Conduit Fields in Islington, one of the earliest recorded venues for the game and the original home of the White Conduit Club, which later became Marylebone Cricket Club.
Cricket was played at this site until 1786, when Thomas Lord found an alternative venue now known as Lord’s Old Ground. It was a further three decades before he opened the present Lord’s Cricket Ground, formerly a duckpond in St John’s Wood, in 1814.
Curved bats and underarm bowling
The painting, catalogued as in the vendor’s family “for at least three generations”, was offered at Andrew Smith & Son (21% buyer’s premium) on December 11 with an estimate of £4000-6000. It shows batsmen playing with curved bats, underarm bowling and three stumps – the latter introduced to the sport c.1775.
As later copies dating to the 20th century are known to exist, the auctioneers decided against publishing a specific date in the catalogue, although they believed it most probably late 18th or early 19th century. A saleroom amendment for the lot read it was being offered “without a date of artistry”.
Catherine Hockley, director of Andrew Smith & Son, said: “We had a fair amount of interest from cricket buffs and it sold to a collector on the phone who had viewed it.” The picture had condition issues, including areas of restoration, over-painting, surface craquelure and discolouration.