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.
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.