Ben Nevis, River Lochy, Inverness-Shire, a Thomas Miles Richardson watercolour that sold for £4400 at Andrew Smith & Son.

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Elected as a full member of the Society of Painters in Watercolours in 1851, from then until his death he participated in every summer and winter exhibition, eventually showing over 700 watercolours.

Dealerships Arthur Tooth & Sons and Agnew & Sons held regular and very successful selling exhibitions, with Christie’s conducting a studio sale in 1890.

Richardson’s scenes were the typical Victorian topographical range, mixing Swiss and Italian Alpine views with those of the Borders and the Scottish Highlands.

Many of the top prices paid for Richardson’s works are for Ben Nevis subjects. Back in 2004 when the best British topographical watercolours were still deemed investment material, the large-scale 2 x 3ft (60 x 90cm) composition Departing Day, Ben Nevis sold for a record £25,000 at a Sotheby’s sale staged in Gleneagles Hotel.

These days, with the market at a financial nadir, prices of over £5000 are a rarity and many workmanlike Richardson watercolours bring just a few hundred pounds.

Strong bidding

There was, however, strong bidding for a Ben Nevis scene offered by Hampshire firm Andrew Smith and Son (23% buyer’s premium) in Alresford on June 14.

Ben Nevis, River Lochy, Inverness- Shire measured 13in x 2ft 1in (33 x 64cm) and dated from c.1880. Although estimated at £200-300, it was deemed an atmospheric and well-executed example and commanded much stronger interest than most works by the artist that emerge nowadays.

The bidding reached £4400 at which point it was knocked down via

Other than a view of Lake Maggiore in Italy that made £5000 at Christie’s in July 2022, the price was by some distance the highest for the artist at auction over the past 12 months.