WITH collectors’ taste in Modern British art shifting in recent years from pre-war to post-war, the once all-conquering Newlyn School has not generated as many headline-stealing results as it did in the late 1980s.
However, given the right name and the right provenance, substantial prices can still be achieved, such as on February 28 when this fine quality Walter Langley (1852-1922) watercolour of a bearded fisherman, right, sold to a private buyer for £12,000 at the Stourbridge, West Midlands, rooms of Fieldings (12.5% buyer’s premium).
Signed and dated 1884, this 12 x 9in (30 x 23cm) watercolour was presented in a period frame and had been hanging in the same family house for at least three generations.
In general, paintings of bearded old men tend not to be regarded as a commercial proposition, but this was Langley’s specialist subject and this particular work was deemed desirable for being an attractively representative work by the artist.
In addition, Langley was born in Birmingham, affiliations which were always going to boost the price of the watercolour in a West Midlands saleroom, as was a modest estimate of £3000-4000. On the day. at least five bidders on the telephone pushed the bidding up to a winning £12,000, which is pretty much in line with the better auction prices achieved for Langley single-figure subjects over the last couple of years.