The Golden Temple at Amritsar by Violet Clutterbuck – £3000 at Keys.

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However, while the little-known Norwich school artist produced mostly landscapes, country scenes and still-lifes, her Indian subjects are distinctly more commercial.

Until recently her auction record was £1400 for a rare oil painting titled Japanese Figures on a Bridge from 1908 that sold in a Bonhams auction of a Norfolk collection in 2004.

That changed on July 29 this year when a small but elegant view of The Golden Temple at Amritsar came up at Keys (20% buyer’s premium) of Aylsham.

Interestingly, the sale offered 10 works by the artist, seven of which went for under £100 with two others making £160 and £340. But this depiction of the famous temple in Punjab, with its image deftly reflected in the water, proved to be a totally different proposition.

All the Clutterbuck watercolours came from a single vendor: a well-known contemporary artist from Norfolk who had owned them since the 1980s. The fact that the 9 x 14in (23 x 36cm) watercolour was thought to date from before 1900 made it more of a rarity, simply because good quality 19th century watercolours of the Golden Temple do not appear very often.

Works depicting the pre-eminent Sikh spiritual site have a special appeal to bidders – something demonstrated not least by an oil painting of the same setting by Edwin Lord Weeks (1849-1903) that made a cool £400,000 at Bonhams in June (see ATG No 2550).

Impressionistic style

Violet Clutterbuck (née Smith) was born in Derbyshire but moved to Norfolk after marrying the photographer Walter John Clutterbuck (1853-1937).

She exhibited at the Norwich Art Circle and occasionally at the Ipswich Art Club. Her work can sometimes seem a little folksy, in the manner of Helen Allingham, but this picture was more Impressionistic with the style more akin to some of Edward Seago’s shimmering watercolours.

Estimated at just £30-50, it drew plenty of interest from a handful of bidders and came down to an online competition between a collector versus a private buyer in Surrey.

It was eventually knocked down to the latter at £3000, a sum that significantly raised the bar for Clutterbuck.

Crome shines


A rural Norfolk cottage with figures and livestock by John Crome – £1300 at Keys.

A couple of other works by older Norfolk School artists brought attention in Aylsham. John Crome (1768-1821) continues to have a strong following in the region and his work received some recent interest with the first major exhibition dedicated to the artist since 1968 held at Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery last year.

The show coincided with a new book on the artist titled A Passion for Landscape: Rediscovering John Crome edited by the exhibition’s curator Dr Giorgia Bottinelli.

The 16 x 21in (41 x 53cm) oil on canvas at Keys depicted a rural cottage with figures and livestock and was estimated at £300-500.

While the subject was fairly typical, this example benefited from its market freshness having been in the same family for generations. It was shipped back from Sweden for the auction.

On the day it brought overseas as well as local interest and was knocked down at £1300 to an online buyer from New Zealand. The sum was above average for a work of this size.

Norfolk landmark


Castle Acre Priory, Norfolk by David Hodgson – £1400 at Keys.

Also selling above estimate was a painting of the ruins of Castle Acre Priory by David Hodgson (1798-1864), another artist whose work routinely brings interest in East Anglia.

The 11th century priory, located about 15 miles from King’s Lynn, is a well-known Norfolk landmark and this 20 x 15in (51 x 38cm) oil on canvas came to auction as part of an extensive collection of works all depicting the ruins.

The vendor was a priest based in Bishop’s Stortford who had been collected images of the priory for several years.

This picture was one of the few known works of Castle Acre painted by Hodgson and had been originally exhibited at the Norfolk & Norwich Art Union in 1839. Estimated at £700-1300 at the Aylsham auction, it sold online at £1400.

Keys holds the artist’s joint record: for a view of the old fishmarket in Norwich which it sold for £5800 in 2018.