The Goosewoman and The Postman by George Smart, the versions sold at Eldreds for £8000, and below, those offered at Tennants that took £5500.

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A pair of pictures by folk art favourite George Smart (1774-1846) sold for £8000 at Eldreds (20% buyer’s premium) in Plymouth on November 29.

The felt and watercolour collages, each measuring 11 x 13in (28 x 33cm) in gilt gesso frames with maker’s labels, depicted two of his most popular subjects: Old Bright, The Postman, and The Goosewoman (Elizabeth Horn).

Smart, who styled himself Cat Manufacturer, Artist in Cloth & Velvet Figures and Professor of Peculiar Art, used the leftover scraps from his tailoring to produce these playful images of village life in Frant, near Turnbridge Wells.

The pictures, accompanied by verses such as the one that opened this tale, were popular souvenirs for early 19th century tourists.

Royal patronage

The Smart workshop is mentioned in guidebooks at the time and (as referenced in the labels to the back of these pictures) received the patronage of His Royal Highness, the Duke of Sussex.

This pair, which came from a Plymouth deceased estate with an earlier provenance to dealer Bill Foxsmith, were guided at £3000- 4000 but went to the specialist trade bidding on the phone, at twice the top estimate.

Auctioneer Anthony Eldred credited their ‘bright and cheerful’ condition and “unusually strong colours”.

Roles reversal

These do not come up too often but another pair had sold in Tennants’ (22% buyer’s premium) Costume, Accessories & Textiles Sale on November 18.

In original walnut frames and with Smart labels verso, these again featured The Postman and The Goosewoman but here the backgrounds were different and the felt figures reversed.

They were guided at £1500-2500 and sold via at £5500 in the Leyburn auction.

The pair were acquired by the vendor’s father, who worked at antiquarian book dealership Sanders of Oxford in 1969, and had been in the family for half a century.

Save some small losses and foxing, they were in good condition.