Thursday - 24 April 2014

Going to the zoo in 1850

22 July 2012Written by Alex Capon

Three pictures of London Zoo, produced within a few years of its opening to the public, were sold by Lawrences of Crewkerne on July 6.

The oldest scientific zoo in the world, the site in Regent's Park was established in 1828 as resource for study, but it wasn't until 1847 that it opened its gates to the wider public. By doing so it became an instant attraction which quickly began to draw hundreds of visitors, but it also provided a fertile subject for a number of artists.

One of them was Thomas Mann Baynes (1794-1854), a painter of landscapes and famous buildings who also specialised in scenes of outdoor events. While a few lithographs of London scenes and coastal views have emerged at auction before, at Lawrences was something altogether rarer: a set of three watercolours depicting London Zoo's beaver pool, bear pit and pelican enclosure.

Heightened with white and all measuring roughly 4¼ x 8in (11x 20cm), they dated from around 1850 and had a label for Thos. Agnew & Sons. They were also in good condition, needing only a light clean.

Although the artist does not have a huge track record in the saleroom, these interesting topographical scenes were well executed studies as well as something of a novelty in terms of their subject.

Offered together and estimated at £1000-1500, they were taken to £3500 and sold to a London trade buyer.

The buyer's premium 19.5%.

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