'Sea Birds' by Archibald Thorburn – £25,000 at Tennants.

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Grouse sit at the top of the tree, followed in order by partridge, pheasant, quail, snipe, woodcock and duck. So where would seagulls stand in the pecking order?

The answer seems to be quite high, certainly if the performance of a painting titled Sea Birds at Tennants’ March 20 sale is anything to go by.

The 21¼in x 3ft 7in (54cm x 1.08m) watercolour, signed and dated 1908, came to auction from a private north of England source and had previously been through Broadway, Worcestershire, dealership Haynes Fine Art.

A good-size picture with a good date, it was much more unusual to see a coastline in a Thorburn painting. While the birds depicted included seagulls, black-headed gulls and tern, the presence of the starfish in the foreground added a nice touch.

Estimated at £25,000-35,000, it sold on low estimate to the London trade but the sum was the highest at auction for one of the artist’s smaller number of sea bird paintings.

None had made more than £11,000 previously (source: Artprice by Artmarket).