A drawng in The Illustrated Autobiography

An example of one of the drawings in The Illustrated Autobiography of John Wood, £7000 at Hansons.

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John Wood (1801-70) came to the attention of legendary artists Henry Fuseli and Sir Thomas Lawrence.

The son of a drawing-master, he was an RA gold medallist in 1825 and won commissions including the altarpiece of St James’s, Bermondsey, in 1844 and ceiling panels at Wrest Park, Bedfordshire, for Earl de Grey.

More than 20 lots relating to Wood were consigned from his great, great, great nephew in Bedfordshire and offered at Hansons’ The Art & Livres d’Artiste Library auction on July 18 at Bishton Hall, Staffordshire.

The top lot was an illustrated autobiographical manuscript by Wood that took £7000 (plus 30% buyer’s premium inc VAT) against an estimate of £2000-3000.

The Illustrated Autobiography of John Wood

The Illustrated Autobiography of John Wood, £7000 at Hansons.

Across three handwritten volumes, illustrated throughout with original sketches and watercolours, the c.1868-69 manuscript recounts Wood’s ‘early love for art’, ‘sketching in school’, gaining ‘the notice of Sir Thomas Lawrence’ as well as his experience of the Royal Academy, commissions, exhibiting and personal reflections. It finishes with a sad conclusion in which Wood states he can no longer create art due to ‘suffering most from a depression of spirits’.

Hansons’ specialist Jim Spencer noted Wood’s touching personal story and added: “The work that went into these books is breathtaking.”

Another illustrated manuscript book created by him was designed as ‘a keepsake’ for his sister Elizabeth in 1863. It took a hammer price of £6000 against an estimate of £1500-2500.

John Wood self-portrait

A self-portrait by artist John Wood, £1000 at Hansons.

Among the paintings offered were portraits of his sisters and nephews as well as a self-portrait which took a below-estimate £1000. A portrait of his younger sister Sarah Wyatt Gray from 1832 made £2700.

Wood’s pictures are in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery, Sir John Soane’s Museum and the V&A and the auction record for a painting by him, according to Artprice.com, was set in May 2004 at Sotheby’s New York when Portrait of three Children in a Landscape with a Dog (1821) took $27,500 (£15,155) or £18,186 including buyer’s premium.

The collection at Hansons sold to a mixture of specialist dealers and collectors.