Singer Sargent
Sotheby’s has brokered the sale of John Singer Sargent’s 'Game of Bowls' to the National Trust’s Ightham Mote, the property in Kent that is depicted in the painting.

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The property at the time was being rented by Mary Lincoln ‘Queen’ Palmer, the wife of American railroad engineer William Jackson Palmer. Singer Sargent depicted her with her daughter Elsie and his own sister Violet on the North Lawn of the property, which is now owned by the National Trust.

The large oil on canvas was originally exhibited at Joe Comyns Carr’s New Gallery the year after it was painted, and would later appear at a Sotheby’s New York auction in 1987 where it was knocked down to A Alfred Taubman at $330,000 (£182,925).

Brokered privately

While the bulk of the collection of Sotheby’s former owner was sold off in 2015-16, this work was kept back after its availability was brought to the National Trust’s attention by the great-nephew of the American-born artist and former director of the National Maritime Museum, Richard Ormond.

An attempt to raise funds to acquire the work for Ightham Mote has now resulted in a successful £360,000 deal which was brokered privately by Sotheby’s.

Ormond said: “The opportunity to bring this exceptional picture back to the place where it was painted was too good to miss. It is a record of a place and its occupants at a particular moment in history. It is strong in atmosphere and character and is a remarkable work of art.”