After a strong interest emerged against a £200-400 estimate, it was knocked down at £4500 via thesaleroom.com. Inscribed to the back and signed E Fletcher, the 2ft 6in x 4ft 2in (76cm x 1.27m) oil on canvas was thought to be the work of the London marine painter Edward Henry Eugene Fletcher (1857-1945).
Relatively little is known his artistic life. The son of a Bengal boat pilot whose job was guiding shipping along the Hooghly River, he had first joined the Army Hospital Corps in Nova Scotia but had returned to London and to painting when invalided out in 1871. It appears he did not exhibit and instead made a living selling his pictures through dealers and galleries, sometimes using the pseudonym John Hayes for contractual reasons.
Today his work appears for sale with some regularity and is admired in particular for the subject matter (he almost exclusively painted views of the Thames, its industry and its shipping) as well as the level of detail. The best of his works are deemed to compare favourably to those of William Wyllie.
Apart from a painting of four puppies that fetched €6250 (£5320) at Mealy’s in Ireland in 2013, no picture by Fletcher has seemingly made more at auction (source: Artprice).
The picture was one of four works by the artist at the Edinburgh sale on April 16. Together they raised £7050.
Another picture of the Thames, this time a smaller composition titled Tug Boats on the Thames, overshot a £300-500 estimate and took £1800. The signed oil on canvas measured 13½ x 17¼in (34 x 44cm).
Depicting a different location, a view of a tug and boat in a choppy sea off the white cliffs of Dover surpassed a £150-200 estimate and took £550.