The historic estate in Cleobury Mortimer, Worcestershire, was home to the Meysey family but was put on the market back in 2010 following the death of both Michael Meysey Wigley Severne and his daughter a few years earlier. Items from the collection consigned to the Billingshurst, West Sussex, saleroom included books, jewellery, silver and works of art and paintings.
The pictures appeared at Bellmans’ Old Master, British & European paintings auction on October 11. A slightly mixed selection, all 17 works sold, with most making sums in the hundreds of pounds.
However, an impressive landscape with figures on horseback by a lake proved more sought after and made the highest price of the group.
The catalogue noted that the 2ft 6in x 2ft 1in (77 x 64cm) oil on canvas was based on a known composition by the influential Welsh painter Richard Wilson (1714-82) which had featured in a 1953 book on Wilson by WG Constable.
As such, it was catalogued as ‘Follower of Richard Wilson’ and estimated at £800-1200. In terms of its condition, the picture had some minor issues including some discolouration and varnish to the relined canvas. While it had some craquelure across the paint surface which was consistent with its age, it had no signs of retouching under UV light although this could have been obscured by the varnish.
Some of these signs, as well as certain artistic features, may have led bidders to believe it had an earlier date than many copies of Wilson’s works. This seems to explain why a couple of parties were prepared to bid well over the estimate and it eventually took a £9500 bid from a UK dealer.
Another work from the same source bringing strong competition was very different in style. The picture by Henry Harris Brown (1864-1948) depicting William Burdon-Muller standing full length was less formal than most of the Northamptonshire-born artist’s portraits.
The 2ft 9in x 20½in (85 x 52cm) oil on canvas was signed and dated 1899. It was estimated at just £150-250 and sold at £3200 to a UK dealer bidding on thesaleroom.com.
The price was in the top five auction prices for Brown (according to Artprice) and may have been boosted by the recent record £13,000 for the portrait of Lady Hamilton (a picture that appeared in the background of Uncle Monty’s house in the film Withnail and I) that sold at Bellmans in February (see ATG No 2538).