Published 20th May 2013
It seems the market for Victorian and traditional pictures is improving.
Over the last few years, this area of the market has been pretty flat. We have seen good Victorian paintings with market values below what they were say ten, or even twenty, years ago. This has not been a consequence of the economy or attitudes towards prosperity, but is related to contemporary fashion and styles.
We often meet clients who are keen to sell a traditional picture or a collection of Victorian paintings. The conversation regularly turns to the question of current fashion, which is usually the reason the client is selling – their tastes and styles have moved away from what we might call 'old fashioned' Victorian and have moved towards a more modern lighter style; or they have a less fussy cluttered houses and lifestyle which does not have room for lots of pictures.
However, our last major picture sale saw some very promising results for Victorian paintings such as the William Oliver portrait of A Young Beauty (FS18/357), which was secured for £5,000.
Oliver was born in 1823 and died in the same year as Queen Victoria, 1901. This portrait by Oliver is typical with the subject being a beautiful, romantic young lady. The quality of the painting is good, with soft and realistic skin tones and complexion; with the anatomy and posture of the hands being equally well-executed.
So this Victorian painting, along with another dozen 19th century figure paintings that all sold in our last fine art sale, gives us some confidence that the market is more active. (There is another charming painting of a young beauty by William Oliver in our sale on 3rd July 2013.)
Away from figure painting, there was a good 19th century harbour view titled A Cornish Fishing Village by William Edward Webb (FS18/379), who was also a contemporary of Queen Victoria.
While the Oliver portrait had very obvious decorative appeal and always had a good chance of doing well, paintings like the harbour view by William Webb seem to have had an even tougher time in the market of late. So it was very encouraging that this sold for £3,400.
Looking forward to our next major picture sale (on 3rd/4th July 2013) and perhaps spurred-on by the last results, we already have a good looking group of traditional and 19th Century paintings.
Our view is that, with the right estimates, these should do well but still offer good value to collectors who like the thought of a Victorian painting or two.
Included in the sale is a very impressive oil painting of Highland Cattle and Sheep by Charles Jones (1836-1892) with an estimate of between £3,000 and £5,000 and, of a slightly later date, a dog painting attributed to Lillian Cheviot (fl 1890-1930), which has an estimate of £800-£1,200.
If the encouraging signs from the last sale for good quality Victorian paintings continues, then these look attractive lots. If you would like to discuss selling a single picture or a collection then please contact Dan Goddard in our Picture Department.