The Custom House Quay, Greenock by Robert Salmon, $34,000 (£27,200) at Stair.

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His 1820 view of The Custom House Quay, Greenock and an 1818 painting titled The Pomona of Greenock Riding at Anchor, hammered at $34,000 (£27,200) and $28,000 (£22,400) respectively.

Although Salmon (1775-1858) is often considered an American marine artist (he emigrated to Boston in 1828), he was born in the Cumbrian port of Whitehaven and spent time working in both Liverpool and Greenock in the 1810s-20s.

When he painted the local customs house in 1820, the handsome Georgian building was just two years old. Designed by Scottish architect William Burn (1789-1870) at a cost of £30,000, the building ceased to be used as a customs and excise office only in 2010. This 2ft 3in x 23in (67 x 57cm) painting is the example illustrated in Robert Salmon, Painter of Ship and Shore (1971) by John Wilmerding. The estimate was $20,000-30,000.

Salmon’s ship portraits display a deep familiarity with sailing ships. Most adopt the traditional practice of showing the same vessel in at least two positions on the same canvas.


The Pomona of Greenock Riding at Anchor by Robert Salmon, $28,000 (£22,400) at Stair.

The Pomona of Greenock Riding at Anchor is inscribed and dated 1818. Again measuring 2ft 3in x 23in (67 x 57cm), this work is pictured in Alan Granby’s A Yachtsman’s Eye (2004) and appears to be the same canvas as that sold at Sotheby’s Parke Bernet as part of the Paul Mellon (1907-99) sale in 1981. It was estimated at $10,000-15,000.

Both paintings were described as being in generally good condition, with craquelure, scattered inpainting and some repaired tears.

In 1828, Salmon left Liverpool, arriving in Boston on New Years Day, 1829. During the growth of Boston Harbour in the first half of the century, he painted the scene 300-400 times. Salmon’s English period paintings are typically more modestly priced than those completed in North America.