Oil on canvas, labelled
Diameter 8 inches
The label on the back reads: ‘An unfinished canvas by John Watson Nicol painted about 1908 from The Revenge by Tennyson — ‘Sink me the ship, master gunner — Sink her split her in twain Fall into the hands of God: not into the hands of Spain’ / The head in this of the principal figure — Sir Richard Grenville, and was, in Nicol’s opinion, the best head he ever painted’.
Although wounded and outgunned in battle at sea with the Spanish in the Azores at the end of the 16th century, Grenville fought to the death, and Tennyson made him into an archetype of English courage. A painter of dramatic history, Nicol’s most famous picture was Lochaber No More, of a Scottish Highlander leaving his home.