by Alex CaponMARKET-FRESH pictures in good condition by major names...meet all three of these criteria and success is virtually assured. And, as was evident at the March 1 sale held in Exeter by Bearne’s (15/10% buyer’s premium), two out of three ain’t bad.
Overall, the 93 pictures that got away from the 150 offered
contributed more than £188,290 to the sale total, leaving Daniel
Goddard, head of Bearne's picture department, quite happy.
But the main focus was of the two outstanding oil on canvas works
which sold to the same London dealer - a William James
(fl.1730-1780) which took £27,000 and a Willem Koekkoek (1839-1895)
Both came from the same source, a local vendor whose parents had
bought them from E. Stacey Marks in East-bourne in the 1970s.
"These were both impressive works," said Mr Goddard.
"However, they were difficult to estimate because of some
condition issues. Both had been cleaned and relined, and had
undergone some minor overpainting by Stacey Marks. The sky in the
Koekkoek especially showed signs of restoration."
As good and characteristic examples of the artists' work, in
perfect condition they would undoubtedly have made significantly
more but still did well enough.
Koekkoek's view of figures in a street certainly demonstrated his
distinctive handling of colour and shade and his careful
observation - qualities that make him the best-regarded painter of
townscapes in the Koekkoek dynasty.
However, he is best known for his winter scenes - like the large
example offered at Tennants in November which was in better
condition than the Bearne's picture and made £90,000.
Still, the 2ft 2in x 2ft 9in (66 x 84cm) work at Exeter was signed
in the bottom right and comfortably exceeded its £15,000-20000
William James' 4ft 1in x 3ft 4in (1.25m x 75cm) oil on canvas The
Grand Canal at Santa Stae, Venice also evinced the key qualities
that admirers look for in his work.
It showed his debt to Canaletto, and, like many of his works,
suggested that he may have been the assistant to the Venetian
artist when he was living in London.
Two versions of this view have appeared at auction in the last 18
months. One sold at Bonhams Bond Street at £28,000 in July 2004 and
another made £30,000 at the same saleroom in December 2003. Another
view of the Grand Canal by William James is appearing at Sotheby's
British sale on March 22 with a £40,000-60,000 estimate.
The Bearne's sale also included two orientalist watercolours by
Charles Robertson (1844-1891) consigned from a charity. The Wailing
Wall, Jerusalem, which measured 2ft 5in x 2ft (74 x 61cm), made
£15,400 and The Flower Market, Damascus, which was signed, had a
label on the backboard and measured 15in x 2ft 3in (38 x 69cm),
Both were in good condition and sold to the West Country
When compared to some of the damaged and unfinished Robertson
paintings sold at Potburys last month and featured in last week's
Art Market, these pictures again highlight the role that condition
plays in determining the level of bidding.
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