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Red Grouse in Flight Over Heather and Moorland by Archibald Thorburn – £9200 at Sheffield Auction Gallery.

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These typical works, depicting various game birds among heather and moorland, were consigned to Sheffield Auction Gallery’s (18.5% buyer’s premium) Antique and Fine Art sale on September 27.

The larger of the two, bearing the descriptive title Winter Landscape With Game and dated 1908, made £10,600 against an estimate of £2000-3000. Red Grouse in Flight Over Heather and Moorland, dated 1913, was pursued to £9200 against a £1200-1800 estimate.

Competition for Thorburn’s watercolour birds remains high among collectors who view the Scottish painter’s mastery, accuracy and attention to detail as unrivalled in British ornithological art.

Movement master 

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A snipe in flight by John Cyril Harrison – £1700 at Batemans.

Another highly regarded artist of the genre is Norfolk artist John Cyril Harrison (1898-1985).

Stamford auction house Batemans (20% buyer’s premium) sold a signed 2ft 7in x 2ft (79 x 61cm) watercolour of a snipe in flight for £1700 on October 5, nearly double its top estimate.

Educated at the Slade School after the First World War, Harrison carved out a career illustrating natural history books capturing the movement of birds in flight and travelled widely to Scotland, South Africa, eastern Africa and Iceland to expand his body of avian work.