The January 17 sale titled Of Royal and Noble Descent includes 79 lots dedicated to Nelson, Trafalgar and the British maritime tradition from ‘a princely collection’.
Alongside typical souvenirs and commemoratives with estimates staring at £100 and a range of marine oil paintings, the sale features the return to Sotheby’s of a series of trophy lots that 12 years ago (October 2005) formed part of the anniversary sale Trafalgar: Nelson and the Napoleonic Wars.
The Victory flag fragment was given by Captain William Hugh Dobbie (1771-1830) to the Museum of the Royal United Services Institute and later sold at Wallis & Wallis of Lewes on two occasions, in c.1961 and 1995. It was purchased by the vendor in 2005 at a premium-inclusive £120,000. The estimate this time is £80,000-100,000.
The collection includes a number of Nelson’s love letters to Emma Hamilton – a beguiling window into Nelson’s tempestuous personality and the relationship between the two most famous English people of their day. Written between October 1801 and May 1803, they also document key events from the Amiens peace negotiations to Trafalgar.
Emma’s portrait, by the Irish neo-classicist Gavin Hamilton, which once hung in her husband’s salon in Naples, is also offered (estimate £150,000-200,000).