The collection featured works by the Victorian ‘fairy’ painter himself as well as those of two of his daughters, Edith and Florence, and a number by Florence’s husband Walter Follen Bishop and their son-in-law.
The highest price from the consignment came for one of John’s typically theatrical watercolours showing fairies and a dog in a rustic setting.
Snowy Mischief, a 13½ x 10½in (35 x 27cm) watercolour and bodycolour, sold to a private collector at £18,000 against a £15,000-25,000 estimate. Although the artist broke the six-figure barrier three times in the late 1990s and early 2000s, this was the highest price at auction in over 10 years (source: Artprice).
Bringing more competition was a self-portrait by Florence Fitzgerald (1857-1927) which flew dramatically over its £400-600 estimate. The 3ft 1in x 2ft (94 x 61cm) oil on canvas was a sensitive rendering in which the London-born artist and sculptress depicted herself as a confident artist holding a paintbrush and palette.
Although it was unframed and had a few knocks and blemishes, the picture was deemed an appealing opportunity by a number of parties. In part, because the artist is gaining more attention as the current market reassesses works by female artists – she is perhaps beginning to step out of the shadow of her better-known father and husband.
The portrait sold at £16,000 to a UK buyer, more than doubling Florence’s previous auction high.
Overall, 28 of the 39 Fitzgerald lots sold for a combined £63,950, a useful contribution to the bottom line in Newbury.