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While such images currently may not be the most voguish of subjects, they still retain many devotees. Bonhams’ (19.5/10% buyer’s premium) sale at their New Bond Street rooms on March 9 of British and Continental watercolours and drawings featured three Allinghams from the impressive Marley Collection of Allinghams that Christie’s put under the hammer in September 1991 – a sale that resulted in bullish prices throughout, including a record £42,000 for the artist.

Returning to the market after 12 1/2 years, how would these three examples at Bonhams fare? Apart from a stunning watercolour and bodycolour of Titania, sleeping in the moonlight protected by her fairies, by John Simmons (1823-1876), which was hotly contested to £36,000, six times top estimate, it was the Allinghams that were the auction’s price leaders.

Buckinghamshire House at Penn Street, a 14 x 19 3/4in (35.5 x 50cm) watercolour, which at the Marley sale fetched £14,000 (£15,400 with premium), was bought in at £19,000 against expectations of £20,000-30,000. However, Near Hambledon, right, an 11 1/2 x 15in (29 x 38cm) work illustrated in Annabel Watts’ Cottage Homes Revisited (2003), sold at £21,000, compared with £15,000 (£16,500 with premium) in 1991. Meanwhile, The Fiddler, a charming scene of children outside a Witley
cottage listening to a fiddle player, went to a telephone bidder for £11,000, just £1500 above the Marley price.

What do these results tell us? In simple terms, yes, the market has fallen, taking into account factors such as inflation, but, on a more positive note, it still has plenty of life in it, too.