OVER the last couple of years, a number of auctioneers have been complaining that lesser-name Victorian watercolours in the sub-£500 range have become the weakest of all areas at picture sales, sometimes to the point of having no market at all.
However, with the prices of British post-War and Contemporary
art climbing ever higher, even the major names of 19th century
watercolour painting are beginning to look increasingly affordable,
if not actually cheap by comparison.
This fine Edward Lear (1812-1888) watercolour, right, entitled
Edfoo, was perhaps a case in point when it came up for sale at the
Stansted Mountfitchet rooms of Sworders (15% buyer's premium) on
Consigned from a local deceased's estate and not seen on the
market for at least 30 years, this 12 1/2in x 20in (32 x 51cm)
sheet was dated 12 Febry.1854 sunrise and was extensively inscribed
with Lear's trademark colour notes.
With an estimate of £3000-4000, a substantial view of one of
Ancient Egypt's most celebrated sights by one of the 19th century's
celebrated topographical artists, was always going to attract
On the day, competition between three bidders on the phone and one
in the room resulted in a final bid of £6800, from a Scottish
private buyer. This was considerably above the modest pre-auction
estimate, but the price makes an interesting comparison with - to
pick just two examples, albeit from a country house sale - the
£11,000 and £7500 respectively bid for two smaller works on paper
by John Piper (1903-1992) and Keith Vaughan (1912-1977) at Woolley
& Wallis's May 18 Ashley Manor sale.
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