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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