Friday - 31 October 2014

The problem of identifying bonafide Boningtons…

23 March 2004Written by ATG Reporter

ILLUSTRATED in colour on the catalogue cover of Clevedon Salerooms’ March 4 sale was a watercolour described as being by Richard Parkes Bonington (1801-1828).

Recognising the work as basically a pastiche of the oils Fisherfolk on the Normandy Coast, one of which is in the Castle Museum and Art Gallery, Nottingham, the other illustrated in Patrick Noon’s book on the artist, I made contact with the auction room, who were quick to point out that the catalogue entry should indeed have read “in the manner of Bonington”. Signed with an almost convincing ‘RPB’ monogram, the quality of the watercolour appears rather good, so could it just have been a ‘sleeper’? Apparently not; carrying an estimate of £800-1200, it failed to inspire any buyer.

Another not so well faked Bonington ‘signature’ is to be seen on a postcard size pencil and watercolour sketch of Bonington asleep, right, which came up at Bonhams, New Bond Street on March 9. Illustrated in Carlos Peacock’s Bonington monograph, published in 1979 by Barrie & Jenkins, as by the man himself, it is now known to be by Bonington’s French friend Alexandre-Marie Colin (1798-1873) and was duly catalogued by Bonhams as such. Bonhams estimated this drawing at £800-1200, but protracted bidding via two telephones resulted in a outcome of £3800.

Although not signed, there is no doubting the authenticity of Bonington’s pencil and brown wash Lake Brientz and Interlaken, which is being tendered at Sotheby’s, New Bond Street this Friday (March 26). Carrying an estimate of £8000-12,000, the 6 x 8in (15 x 20cm) work is thought to have been painted in June 1826, when Bonington is believed to have passed through Switzerland on his way back to Paris from Turin.

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ATG Reporter

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