James Northcote

Lieutenant-General Sir John Moore, 1761 - 1809. Soldier (Fragment of The Death of Abercromby)

About this artwork

John Moore joined the army at fifteen. He saw rapid promotion but was so frequently wounded in action that he became known as 'unlucky man'. He was in command of the British forces at the beginning of the Peninsular War against Napoleon in Spain. On hearing that the French had taken Madrid, Moore was forced to march his men through the mountains in appalling weather conditions. They reached Corunna and the coast, but the enemy attacked on the afternoon of 15 January 1809. Against all the odds, the British were victorious, but Moore was fatally wounded. This picture is a fragment of a large history painting depicting the death of Sir Ralph Abercromby at Alexandria in 1801, an earlier episode in the wars against Napoleon. It was cut into six pieces in the 1930s, with each portion, a portrait, being sold separately.

James Northcote

James Northcote

Born in Plymouth, James Northcote was a watchmaker's son. He arrived in London in 1771 and became pupil and resident assistant to Reynolds; he also studied at the Royal Academy Schools. Northcote travelled to Italy in 1777 and remained there until 1781. On his return to London, he achieved success both as portrait and history painter, also attempting 'modern moral subjects' in Hogarth's manner. He was one of the first contributors to Boydell's Shakespeare Gallery in Pall Mall, London. Perhaps more interesting as a personality than an artist, he published a biography of Reynolds in 1813.