Changing Impressions - D11101

The Death of General Sir Ralph Abercromby, K.B.
by Francis Legat, after Thomas Stothard
published 1805 (reissued 1828)
NPG D11101

Changing Impressions:  A Print Conservation Project in Focus

Legat's engraving, of Thomas Stothard's dramatic painting, commemorates Abercromby's collapse at the Battle of Alexandria in March 1801 (it is mistitled - Abercromby died not on the field, but seven days later). The arrangement is fictitious as not all of the officers shown were present when Abercromby finally collapsed from his wound, received at the start of the battle.

Stothard (1755-1834) painted this imaginary 'heroic' composition from portraits painted from life after the soldiers' return to England. By means of a key published with Legat's engraving, a number of individuals can be identified. This provides us with useful early portraits of Admiral (then Captain) Sir Sidney Smith and Sir James Kempt, the first recorded owner of the painting.

Stothard is nowadays more acclaimed for his book illustrations than for his paintings. Despite the composition's problematic perspective, its reissue in 1828 shows that the print was successful.