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Watercolour thought to be of the Brontë sisters by Landseer – £40,550 at JP Humbert.

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Portrait ‘of Brontë sisters’ at auction

Northamptonshire auction house JP Humbert has sold a painting that it believes to be a portrait of the Brontë sisters by Edwin Landseer. The c.1838 watercolour, which is painted on rag paper, took a hammer price of £40,550, just over its top estimate, in an online sale that closed on July 16.

It was bought by a private UK art investor who plans to carry out further research into the work.

The 15 x 13in (38 x 33cm) painting was originally offered for sale at JP Humbert in 2012 but was withdrawn in order to investigate the provenance of the portrait and identity of the sitters.

Stolen Islamic tile now returns home

An important glazed Islamic calligraphic tile stolen in Uzbekistan is to be returned to the country after it was discovered for sale in a London gallery.

The 13th century tile was taken from the Chashma-Ayub Mausoleum, in Vobkent, Uzbekistan in 2014.

It was illegally exported and entered the art market.

St James’s Islamic and Indian art dealer Simon Ray then bought the tile, unaware that it had been stolen.

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The glazed Islamic tile returned to a mausoleum in Uzbekistan after it was found to have been stolen.

He offered it for sale last year but was contacted by Prof James Allan, former keeper of Eastern art at the Ashmolean Museum, who had recently visited the monument and knew it had been stolen.

Ray then contacted the British Museum in order to arrange for its repatriation.

The museum held discussions with the Embassy of the Republic of Uzbekistan in London and the British Embassy in Tashkent.

The tile will now be returned to the mausoleum.

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Latest moves in the saleroom world

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Tracy Martin, who is now at Criterion Auctioneers.

Collectables expert Tracy Martin has joined Criterion Auctioneers to run its Islington saleroom.

Martin will be running a team of 10 and is planning to hire a valuer/cataloguer to join the north London branch.

She previously worked at Stacey’s Auctioneers and Valuers in Essex and has been a freelance specialist, TV presenter and author for the past 17 years.

Criterion, which closed its Wandsworth saleroom in December, opened a valuation office at 239 High Street Kensington last month in the hope of winning work following the planned closure of Christie’s South Kensington.

The firm now plans to hold weekly auctions at its Islington saleroom, currently being refurbished, and monthly country house sales at Jaggards House in Corsham, near Bath.

• Briony Harford has left Criterion to join Sworders’Hertford team as a valuer working with Daniel Webster.

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Briony Harford, who has joined Sworders.

• Giovanna Bertazzoni and Adrien Meyer have been promoted to co-chairmen of the Christie’s impressionist and modern art departments. Bertazzoni has worked at Christie’s for 19 years. Meyer has been at the auction house for 13 years.

Men charged over Somerset thefts

Twelve men have been charged with offences relating to an aggravated burglary when £2.5m worth of paintings, silver and jewellery were taken from a property in Somerset in 2009.

All but one of the 15 paintings taken have been recovered, police said. The outstanding painting is Sir John Lavery’s After Glow Taplow. Following a complex and detailed investigation, a series of arrests were made in the West Midlands, Gloucestershire, London, Surrey and Kent.

The men are due to appear before Bristol Magistrates’ Court on August 24.

Arts minister backs the trade

The new minister for arts, heritage and tourism, John Glen MP, has vowed he will do all he can to support the art market’s interests in government.

The MP for Salisbury, who took on the post in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) last month, said: “I have an enthusiasm and awareness of the value of the art trade in this country.”

Speaking at the British Art Market Federation’s (BAMF) British Art Market 2017 report launch at the RICS in London on July 18, Glen added: “I am in listening mode. You have a friend in me… I will do all I can to support you.”

In Numbers

12

Number of MPs who attended British Art Market Federation’s (BAMF) launch of its British Art Market 2017 report at Portcullis House in London on July 18.