Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

Executed in the painstakingly-observed Pre-Raphaelite style in which Boyce worked after abandoning his career as an architect in 1849, this privately entered 12 x 15in (30 x 38cm) scene of a swan gliding serenely across Abinger Mill Pond, Surrey, right, was signed and dated 1866-7 and bore a mass of old labels on the back of its original frame that indicated it had remained in private hands since being bought from the artist’s studio in 1867.

There tends to be a fairly massive differential in price between Boyce’s early and late watercolours, and, although Abinger Mill Pond was not quite of the optimum 1850s Pre-Raphaelite period, and was in slightly faded condition in the sky, it was deemed to possess enough of the right spirit to attract £23,500 from one of five telephone bidders. The last major price for the artist appears to be the £30,000 for a similar-sized, but more panoramic, 1862 watercolour of Godstow Nunnery, Oxfordshire at Sotheby’s highly successful Stanley J. Seeger sale in June 2001.