While it featured a good number of musical instruments and memorabilia, pictures formed the bulk of the auction and achieved most of the highest prices.
Among those generating interest was a painting of a First World War officer playing the violin. It was signed for the Scottish artist William Bernard Reid (fl.c.1900-38) and dated 1916.
The 19¾ x 14½in (50 x 37cm) oil on canvas was a rare picture by a littleknown artist. Reid is known to have exhibited between 1916-38 but not much else is known about his life. He painted a number of views of Venice as well as some portraits – one of Lady Berwick from 1937 can be found at the National Trust house at Attingham Park.
Of the 10 or so works by Reid to have emerged at auction before, none had made more than £500. This work, though, had plenty of appeal including an attractive subject, evocative date and stamp to the stretcher for leading Edinburgh dealership Aitken, Dott & Son. Estimated at £600-800, it sold for £1000 – a new benchmark for the artist on the secondary market.
Further musical-related paintings were offered at Olympia Auctions recently, reported separately here.
Keeping with the First World War theme at Mallams, a naval scene depicting the battleship HMS Iron Duke also drew attention.
Painted by Frank Watson Wood (1862-1953), the 9½in x 2ft 4in (24 x 71cm) watercolour was signed and dated 1918, the year after the Royal Navy dreadnought had been relieved as flagship of the Grand Fleet, a role she served in during the war including at the Battle of Jutland.
The artist started his career in the RN and many of his works have a naval theme. The larger views with multiple ships tend to fetch the higher sums. This example was pitched at £1500-2500 and sold at £2800 to an online bidder.
Although it was some way behind the record £18,000 for a painting of the German High Seas Fleet surrendering after the signing of the Armistice on November 11, 1918, which sold at Bonhams in 2013, it was one of the largest sums in the last few years.
The Oxford sale also included nine further ornithological watercolours by Sarah Stone (c.1760-1844) from the estate of the late Patrick Dockar- Drysdale, all of which sold. Together they added £87,900 to the £171,700 from the 18 lots sold at Mallams in February (reported in ATG No 2536).
Generating equally strong demand, the pick of the bunch this time was a 15½ x 13¼in (40 x 34cm) depiction of two exotic birds: a yellow-headed amazon and a salmon-crested cockatoo. Signed and dated 1801, it drew several bidders against a £8000-12,000 estimate before it took £25,000 from a trade buyer.
Another signed watercolour depicting a Hartlaub’s Touraco sold to the same buyer at £22,000 against a £4000-£6000 estimate.
Both works benefited from their bright colours, favourable condition and the fact that they were recorded in the book Sarah Stone: Natural Curiosities from the New Worlds (1998) by Christine E Jackson.