Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Drummond, Samuel

DRUMMOND, SAMUEL (1765–1844), portrait and historical painter, was born in London on 25 Dec. 1765. His father fought for the Pretender in 1745, and in consequence was obliged to leave the country for some time. At the age of fourteen Samuel ran off to sea, but after six or seven years he left the service, and determined to devote himself to art. Without having had any instruction he began by drawing portraits in crayons, and for several years he was employed upon the ‘European Magazine.’ He then attempted painting in oil, and exhibited for the first time some portraits at the Society of Artists in 1790. In 1791 he sent to the Royal Academy ‘Wilton's First Sight of Olivia’ and two other pictures; in 1793, two sea-pieces, with some portraits; in 1801, ‘The Woodman;’ and in 1804, ‘The Drunken Seaman ashore’ and ‘Crazy Jane.’ In 1808 he was elected an associate of the Royal Academy, where many years later he succeeded Archer James Oliver as curator of the painting school. He gained some repute by his naval subjects, such as the ‘Death of Nelson,’ exhibited at the British Institution in 1807, the ‘Battle of Trafalgar,’ and the ‘Battle of the Nile,’ exhibited at the same place in 1825, the first two of which have been engraved, and a large picture of ‘Admiral Duncan receiving the Sword of the Dutch Admiral De Winter after the Battle of Camperdowne,’ exhibited in 1827, a commission from the directors of the British Institution, by whom it was presented to Greenwich Hospital. In 1829 he sent to the British Institution ‘The Gallantry of Sir Walter Raleigh.’ His principal occupation was portrait-painting, but he also painted landscapes, in which he imitated the Florentine pictures of Wilson. His later works were chiefly subjects from the Bible and the poets, some of which have been engraved. Between 1790 and 1844 he exhibited 303 pictures and drawings at the Royal Academy, and 101 at the British Institution and other London exhibitions. In the latter part of his life his circumstances became reduced, and he frequently received assistance from the funds of the Royal Academy. He died in London on 6 Aug. 1844.

Portraits by him of the elder Charles Mathews, the comedian, and of Richard Parker, the leader of the mutiny at the Nore, were in the National Portrait Exhibition of 1867. In the National Portrait Gallery are a portrait in oil of Sir Marc Isambard Brunel, exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1836, and a miniature on ivory of Mrs. Fry.

[Redgrave's Dict. of Artists of the English School, 1878; Sandby's Hist. of the Royal Academy of Arts, 1862, i. 397; Seguier's Critical and Commercial Dict. of the Works of Painters, 1870; Royal Academy Exhibition Catalogues, 1791–1844; British Institution Exhibition Catalogues (Modern), 1807–43.]

R. E. G.