Appearing at the latest of the twice-yearly marine sales at Bonhams Knightsbridge was a painting by Charles Napier Hemy (1841-1917) which had local connections helping bring demand.
Hauling in the Nets was typical in subject matter
for the Newcastle-born artist who spent much of his career in
Cornwall - two fishermen on a boat in Falmouth harbour - and
demonstrated Hemy's highly rated talents at capturing the swell of
The 2ft 8in x 4ft (81cm x 1.22m) oil on canvas came from a UK
private source. It was signed and dated 1886 and had similarities
to his Royal Academy exhibit The Smelt Net which was
painted in the same year and also showed fishermen on their boats
in the foreground as well as the training ship HMS
Ganges in the background.
Hemy settled in Falmouth in 1881 and, by this time, had already
established a reputation for his maritime work in London - he is
regarded as Falmouth's first Royal Academician.
Furthermore, this particular work had special local appeal
thanks to the fact that it depicted oyster dredging by hand (which
still continues in Falmouth today) and showed Pendennis Castle in
the distance which stands on a headland at one side to the entrance
of Falmouth harbour.
All of these reasons seemed to have persuaded two benefactors of
the Falmouth Art Gallery who had seen the auction catalogue to
approach the gallery's director 14 days before the sale and offer
financial support should try to acquire it.
After the benefactors duly pledged 'substantial' donations, a
quick turn-around was required to get further funding applications
in place from the Art Fund and Arts Council/V&A Purchase Grant
Fund. The gallery's director Henrietta Boex was eventually able to
successfully bid in the room against competition on the phone and
secure it at £38,000. The estimate was £25,000-35,000.
The price would seem to represent decent value for the gallery -
a similarly sized picture entitled Hauling in the Trammel
Net had made £50,000 at Bonhams in April 2013, although
that picture had been a later work and had differences in terms of
composition and subject matter.
The current sale took place on April 15 and the buyer's premium
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