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Watercolour by Michel-Jean Cazabon – £27,000 at PFK.

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The foxed and stained watercolour of a British merchant vessel at anchor in the Caribbean had been unearthed by the auctioneers in an Anglesey collection.

Cazabon was Trinidad’s first internationally known artist. His parents, ‘free coloured’ immigrants from Martinique who had settled in the Naparimas under the 1783 Cedula of Population decree (opening up immigration to Trinidad), were owners of a sugar plantation.

They chose to educate their son first as an English gentleman at St Edmund’s College in Ware, England, and later at art school in Paris. Cazabon exhibited regularly at the Salon du Louvre between 1839-47.

On return to Trinidad in 1852 he found popularity painting the plains of the Caroni swamp, the tropical forests at Chaguaramas and portraits of mulattoes, indentured natives, planters and merchants. George Harris, 3rd Baron Harris and local governor from 1848-54, was a key patron.

The collection of 44 Cazabon paintings, now displayed at the Harris family seat in Belmont, Kent, is perhaps the most important visual reference for 19th century Trinidad.

Cazabon paintings were admired in both England and France – a series of plate books featuring his lithographs were produced in the 1850s and ‘60s – but signed watercolours such as this example are rare visitors to the auction room. It came for sale from a vendor in Anglesey whose core collection will be sold on-site by PFK on August 29.

With its condition issues, the 10½ x 14in (26 x 36cm) work on paper was estimated at £5000-7000. Following bids from London dealers, a Spanish dealer and the direct underbidder from Trinidad, it sold to a commission bidder at £27,000 (plus 18% buyer’s premium).