Published 14th November 2014
With some one hundred and thirty pictures on offer in the Autumn 2014 Fine Sale, from Morning Light on the Grand Canal (FS24/243) by the famous contemporary Devon artist Alan Cotton, which made £1,450 to the 17th Century Flemish School Travellers on a Country Path (FS24/329), which made £260, the fine picture auction was varied and full of interest.
There were no headline grabbers in our picture sale this time, the highest value lot being a large 33x69cm and very decorative Myles Birket Foster painting entitled The Elderberry Gatherers at £11,000. There is a recent trend away from Victorian pictures to 20th Century British Art , especially Post War; and taking into account this watercolour drawing was, as most are from this period, 'down in colour' the price was healthy, although 10-15 years ago this would have probably been valued between £15,000-£20,000! All told, the Victorian pictures fared very well. The likes of Thors, Antoine Bouvard, Breanski and John Duval all selling at respectable prices.
The art of selling in a selective market is to offer the art work at a realistic level. One has to put aside the 'once was' values and if vendors are prepared to be advised, very acceptable prices can still be obtained. One reason being the very wide diversity of buyers we have today. With over sixty years of business trading behind us, we are very well known and have extensive mailing lists. We have private views throughout the year where vendors and invited guests can view sales in an evening, at leisure and with refreshments. These events are accompanied by a short talk by one of our departmental heads, outlining results from previous sales and discussing items in forthcoming sales. Occasions such as these introduce new private buyers to our rooms, giving pleasure to any successful bidders, whilst enlarging our clientele and creating more competition for items on offer. The introduction of the Internet has opened our catalogues to the World, which as a forward thinking company, embracing new technology, results in a huge diversity of buyers. As one market closes another opens - there is a rumour that the Chinese are becoming interested in English paintings!
To conclude, and briefly back to our catalogue, Lot 295 the fine pair of marine paintings by Thomas Whitcombe Royal Naval Frigates off the Kent Coast (FS24/295), made £6,600 - A good price for our vendor and a fine purchase for the buyer as these were in lovely condition and I feel will clean beautifully. The Richard Thomas Pentreath (1806-1869) of Mounts Bay and Saint Michael's Mount , a simply wonderful extensive panorama, was hotly pursued by a number of local and national buyers and it realised a good mid-estimate of £5,300.
Finally, to a national favourite, a painter that always makes me smile, a brilliant observer of human life, Beryl Cook (1926-2008). Our lot 236, Twinkle Toes (FS24/236) depicts a high heeled robust lady doing a 'Strictly......'. A small scale work by Beryl, measuring 37x13cm, signed and dated 2005, it realised £6,400. Even Craig Revell Horwood would have to give her a nine!