BY the time sale day came around, Holloways of Banbury knew they had something special on their hands.
But when a portfolio of Views of the Bermudas or Somers
Islands first appeared in the catalogue for their December 2
sale it had carried an estimate of just £70-100.
This 1848 publication contains 13 litho plates by W. Parrott
after Edmund Gilling Hallewell, an unusual number that initially
led the saleroom to think that it may have been incomplete.
In fact, the 13 plates make up three panoramas of the islands
from different vantage points. And while this copy was foxed - the
illustration reproduced here shows it at its worst - it is also a
Edmund Gilling Hallewell (1822-1869) arrived at the Bermuda
garrison in 1841 with the 20th Regiment of Foot or East Devons. He
was promoted lieutenant there and, in 1844, appointed adjutant.
Hallewell also served as private secretary to the governor, Colonel
William Reid, whose daughter Sophia he married.
It seems that it was under his father-in-law's encouragement
that Hallewell, who like many young officers of his time would have
had any natural talent for art encouraged during his training,
produced his watercolour panoramas.
Reid, who was keen to see the commercial development of the
islands, forwarded them to the Colonial Office in London, to
"convey to persons interested an idea of the nature of this
singular group of islands and harbours".
Hallewell's military career later took him to the Crimea, Canada
and Malta, and it seems he continued to paint. Works shown at the
Royal Academy and elsewhere by a Colonel 'Ben' Hallewell were most
likely by Edmund. At his death, aged only 47, Hallewell was
commandant of the Royal Military College at Sandhurst.
The Bermuda views are now much sought after. A Bermudan website
dealing with painters who have worked on the islands reckons only
eight sets are in private ownership there. My researches uncovered
another coloured set being offered by a Bermuda dealer - price on
One of those who viewed at Banbury told Nick Williams of
Holloways that he thought a coloured copy had once made £30,000,
and such a price is recorded on that same Bermudan website.
Book auction records for the last 30 or so years show only two
other copies - an incomplete and presumably uncoloured copy that
made £640 in 1981 and a complete coloured copy, the plates all
mounted on card, that reached £15,000 at Sotheby's five years
However, such things sometimes turn up in topographical picture
or print sales and - with the help of the Sotheby's print
department - that higher priced set was found. In fact, it
turned out to be the same one.
Sold in 1986 as from the library of the Earl of Berkeley, it
returned to Sotheby's in October 1990, where it sold at £28,000 in
a print sale described as the property of a gentleman of Bermuda
and Kent. It seems that neither coloured nor plain has sold at
auction since that time.
Internet exposure brought a lot of interest in the Holloways
copy, which came from a local estate with no apparent connections
with Bermuda, but it was a dealer in the room who secured the
Hallewell collection at £10,500 (plus 15 per cent buyer's
By Ian McKay