Miniature of a 19th century Scottish hero sells for £12,000

A portrait miniature of Sir Pulteney Malcolm GCB GCMG (1768-1838), a Scottish Naval officer from Dumfriesshire, sold for £12,000.

It emerged as the top lot in the Fine Portrait Miniatures auction held at Bonhams, Knightsbridge, this afternoon (Thursday April 8).

At just 10cm in height, the miniature depicts Sir Pulteney Malcolm who, on August 24, 1814, was third in command of a fleet which set fire to many public buildings in Washington DC - including the White House. 

The fire also raged through the buildings housing the Senate and the House of Representatives and the interiors of both buildings, including the Library of Congress, were also destroyed. 

The attack was in retaliation for the American looting of York, Upper Canada - now Toronto - in 1813, which included the burning down of their Parliament buildings.

The mini portrait of Sir Pulteney Malcolm, alongside its measurement

A second portrait miniature by George Engleheart depicting Malcolm's younger brother, Sir Charles Malcolm, who also served in the British Navy, sold for £9,600.

Meanwhile, a portrait of George IV (1762-1830) by the French miniaturist Louis-Bertin Parant made over 16 times its estimate to fetch £8,400. 

The 73mm miniature shows a profile of the King in Classical Guise, and the reverse is glazed to reveal a gold monogram HS within two locks of hair.

A second portrait of George IV, when Prince of Wales and painted by Richard Cosway also brought an impressive £7,800.

Bonhams' sale made £203,040 in total.

"We were surprised by some of the prices realised, with a number of lots making several times their pre-sale estimate," said Camilla Lombardi, Head of Department.

"It was reassuring to see that even in this financially uncertain pre-election period that people are still keen to add to their collections."


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