It includes numerous pencil drawings and watercolours from his time in Macao, China.
The English artist arrived in the Portuguese territory on September 29, 1825, after two and a half months on board the ship Hythe. It had sailed from Calcutta, where it was rumoured that Chinnery had left India for the good of his health and he himself claimed he was trying to get away from his wife, but the truth was he was desperately in debt and hoped that on the China coast he would gain refuge from his creditors.
As it turned out, the artist never returned to India or Europe. From 1825 until his death in 1852 he remained on the south China coast and was buried in the calm oasis of Macao’s protestant cemetery.
A Chinnery sketchbook featuring more than 200 finished watercolour illustrations of Macao and environs over 69 leaves sold at Christie’s in July 2006 for £290,000 and interest in the artist’s work continues apace.
This sketchbook, estimated at £8000-12,000, featured a smaller number of pencil and ink sketches ranging from small figure and animal studies with Chinnery’s ‘shorthand’ annotations to larger double-page landscape compositions.
It came for sale as part of a box of books from a vendor in Glasgow. It is thought to have been in the same family for several generations but had been unappreciated and it required some homework on the auctioneers’ part before an attribution was made and its importance understood.
The sketchbook attracted multiple ‘watchers’ online and eight phone bidders, one of whom was the victor at £52,000.