Sir John Lavery R.A. (1856-1941) is one of the hottest names in the booming Irish picture market and back in 1998 The Bridge at Grez, a large oil on canvas, took a record £1.3m at Christie’s London.
This oil sketch, right, of Thomas Weston, first jockey to the 17th Earl of Derby, offered on April 24 at the Lincoln rooms of Thomas Mawer and Son (15% buyer’s premium) was never going to make this kind of money but its equestrian subject combined with Lavery’s reputation saw a flurry of interest.
Like so many of his fellow countrymen, Lavery loved horse racing and during the 1920s he was to be found painting in the weighing rooms and dressing rooms of many of the great racecourses. One of his equestrian works, The Jockeys Dressing Room at Ascot, painted in 1923, belongs to Tate Britain and it has been said that after Lavery once successfully predicted the winner of the Lincoln Handicap, jockeys believed it was good luck to touch the artist’s shoulder before taking to the saddle.
This 17 by 9in (44 x 24cm) oil sketch was found in untouched condition lying on the floor during a local house clearance, together with a photograph of Thomas Weston on horseback being led into the winner’s enclosure after the 1946 Lincolnshire Handicap.
Signed To Thomas Weston from Sir John Lavery 1935 to the front and with the words Mr Thomas Weston, Jockey, York House, All Saints Terrace, Newmarket to the reverse, the sketch was estimated at £5000-9000. With bidders on four phone lines, the sketch fell to Masoud Pourhabib, an Exeter-based Lavery collector, for £9500.
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