The artist, who was born in Shipley, Yorkshire, was a notable figure in his day, being awarded a scholarship to the Royal Cambrian Academy and later becoming chairman of the Society of Yorkshire Artists.
He initially built a reputation as a portraitist, receiving commissions from wealthy Bradford patrons, but went on to focus on landscapes and figurative scenes from his native county, exhibiting regularly at the Royal Academy.
Stead's works appear fairly regularly on the market with good examples making solid four-figure prices and, on occasion, exceptional works going into five figures.
The two works offered as separate lots at Bellmans on June 17 both depicted young girls in a summer landscape and displayed the artist’s trademark brushwork and tonal effects.
The first offered was a 20in x 2ft (50 x 60cm) signed oil on canvas of a girl gathering flowers in a landscape. It was estimated at £300-500 and, after drawing keen bidding, sold on thesaleroom.com at £4600 with the winning bid apparently placed by a private client.
The following lot was titled Sisters in a farmyard at dusk. It was a smaller oil on canvas measuring 13½ x 18in (34 x 45cm). Pitched at £250-350, again it drew a good contest before it was knocked down at £1400.
A 19th century racing scene estimated at £400-600 was catalogued as by William Dalby of York. This 17in x 2ft 10in (43 x 87cm) signed oil on canvas was a rarity. Little is known about the artist, other that he was the son of Yorkshire animal painter David Dalby (1794-1836) and few records exist of attributed works selling at auction.
Although the catalogue stated that the title of the picture was The Derby, the stand depicted bore a strong resemblance to York racecourse’s two-tier grandstand opened in 1756 which is known from other pictures. Either way, the work’s commercial prospects were raised thanks to the depiction of the crowd and the names of the horses inscribed beneath each runner.
Bidding took it to a final £5800, tendered via thesaleroom.com.