The Story of... The Admiral who burned down the White House

A portrait miniature of Sir Pulteney Malcolm GCB GCMG, a Scottish Navel officer from Dumfriesshire, is to feature in the Fine Portrait Miniatures auction at Bonhams in London, on April 8.

On August 24, 1814, Sir Pulteney Malcolm 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 destroyed. 

While the troops advanced, America's First Lady, Dolley Madison stoically stayed at home attempting to rescue valuables and documents.

She was finally persuaded to leave moments before the invading soldiers entered and the fire destroyed the building. 

The smoke was reportedly visible as far away as Baltimore, yet a tornado swept through the city less than a day after the attack began, eventually putting out the fires.

The portrait, estimated at �8,000-12,000, alongside its measurement

Historians agree that the attack was in retaliation for the American looting of York, Upper Canada - now Toronto - in 1813, whose destruction included the burning down of their Parliament buildings.

Sir Pulteney Malcolm went on to command a squadron in the North Sea during The Hundred Days' War, in co-operation with the army under the Duke of Wellington.

After numerous promotions, he attained the rank of Admiral of the Blue in 1837. 

The sale features another Engleheart miniature of Malcolm's younger brother, Sir Charles Malcolm, who also served in the British Navy. This lot is estimated at �8,000-12,000.

"The miniatures of the two Malcolm brothers are superb examples of Engleheart's work from the pinnacle years of his career," said Camilla Lombardi, Head of Department at Bonhams.

"Fresh to the market and with the provenance of having remained in the sitters' family since 1806, we look forward to a fierce battle to secure them on the day of the sale."


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