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You may have to lie down for this one…

15 March 2005Written by ATG Reporter

GORRINGES were celebrating a house record last Thursday following the sale of a rediscovered late work by John William Godward (1858-1922) for £440,000.

Lot 2069 in a three-day Sussex sale running from March 8-10 was the signed and dated 1919 oil on canvas by the High Victorian favourite. A Cool Retreat II - measuring 21in x 3ft 4in (53 x 1.02m) and probably the companion to a work of the same name - had been consigned to the Lewes, Sussex rooms by a vendor from Eastbourne. The family had been given it in 1983.

The picture had a long auction and gallery history - it was first sold by Christie's in June 1924 for £173 5s when it was one of a pair - but had been 'lost' for two generations following its sale by the Cooling Gallery, London in 1952. In Vernon G. Swanson's book John William Godward: The Eclipse of Classicism, 2000, it is listed as untraced and known only through a colour reproduction.

Mr Swanston was accordingly happy to supply a fulsome catalogue description to the rediscovered work that "depicts a recumbent Italian maiden striking a drowsy but sensuous pose as she lays upon a tiger skin".

The hammer price, bid by a UK private buyer, was some distance above the £250,000-350,000 estimate. It was just below the £450,000 (£509,250 including a 19.5/12 per cent premium) paid at Christie's King Street for Godward's Pompeian Garden in June last year, although technically - with the buyer at Gorringes paying a full 15 per cent premium on the total price - the total sum of £515,700 does represent a new auction record for the artist.

The price is joint fifth on the list of provincial saleroom records, sharing the £440,000 hammer price with a 17th century frozen river scene by Adam van Breen sold by Mellors & Kirk of Nottingham in January 2001.

In November last year Fernhurst auctioneer John Nicholson established a new high for a work of art sold in the UK outside London when Portrait of the Samuel Richardson family by Francis Hayman (1708-1776) realised £540,000.

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ATG Reporter

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