Trafalgar Square in London was built to commemorate the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, the famous British naval victory during the Napoleonic Wars. The present drawing is a study for the four monumental sculptures of lions designed by Landseer and placed at the base of Nelson's column, which stands in the centre of the square (fig. 1). The bronze for the statues was reputedly taken from the cannon of the French fleet as a final statement of dominance and victory. There is an oil painting of Landseer at work modelling the lions in the studio of Baron Marochetti, the sculptor who worked with Landseer on this commission, by John Ballantyne (1815-1897) in the National Portrait Gallery.
Although it has not been possible to identify this drawing securely in the subsequent Agnew's exhibition, it was probably removed from one of the Landseer sketchbooks sold in these Rooms by Miss Ruth Evelyn Mitchell of Los Angeles, California, 13 December 1961, lot 145 (fourteen sketchbooks, of which 'L', measuring 3½ x 6½ in., included studies of lions.).
We are grateful to Richard Ormond for his help in preparing this catalogue entry.