Thomas Sandby architectural drawing – £2800 at Dreweatts.

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Along with his brother Paul (1731-1809), he was apprenticed to a local land surveyor as a young man and, while Paul would later become famous for his pioneering watercolours and aquatints, Thomas became the Royal Academy’s first professor of architecture.

Despite his neoclassical designs being much admired, such as the one he made for Freemason’s Hall in Great Queen Street in London, his architectural studies have rarely appeared on the market.

However, a small example emerged at Dreweatts(25% buyer’s premium) sale in Newbury on May 10.

Dublin design contest

The 9¼ x 19¼in (24 x 49cm) pen and ink with coloured washes was produced in 1768-69 for a competition to design the Royal Exchange in Dublin. Sandby’s design won third price (and earnt him a £40 prize).

Sandby’s elegant but unrealised design had previously sold at Christie’s back in 1988 where it fetched £3200, at a time when the market for English watercolours and works on paper was significantly stronger than it is today.

This time around it was pitched at £1000-1500 and was knocked down at £2800 – still a decent price in the current climate and among the top five auction results for a straightforward architectural drawing by the artist.