Strong Waters at Bath was one of only two of Rowlandson's works to exceed expectations at Sotheby’s British Sale when it sold at £8800.

Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

This reflects a very different market to that of two decades ago when it sold for a record £85,000 (£93,500 with the then premium).

However, one negative result certainly does not reflect the overall Rowlandson market. While the top end might show significant signs of contraction, there appears to be plenty of demand for the artist's more affordable output.

This was attested at Sotheby's British Sale on the same day when all 11 works by Rowlandson got away for sums between £1400 and £17,000, although only two, The Doctor's Consultation (£6200) and Strong Waters at Bath (£8800), exceeded expectations.

It was the same story at the Christie's South Kensington (19.5/12% buyer's premium) sale of watercolours on July 1 when, coincidentally, a further 11 Rowlandsons were offered.

These were much more run-of-the-mill, both in subject matter and condition, which, in turn, was reflected in the sums which they commanded.

At the lower end was the £200 bid for The Veteran Admiral, an attributed work, while fully ascribed examples started at £500 for a pencil and brown ink of male heads and topped £1400 for Harvesters Merrymaking, which, although a typical Rowlandson rural scene with figures and a cart and horses, was suspected by some experts to have had the background details added by another hand.