1. Society portrait
This painting which came from a modest house in Aldershot was part of a deceased estate and originally destined for the skip along with much of the other contents of the property. However, on a hunch, the deceased’s niece decided to call Young’s auction house in Surrey for advice.
A label to the back of the 3ft 7in x 2ft 9in (1.09m x 85cm) oil on canvas gives the artist as William Bruce Ellis Ranken (1881-1942) and the title as The Redcoat.
Ranken was born in Edinburgh and attended Eton before going on to study at the Slade School of Art in London under Henry Tonks. He held his first solo exhibition at the age of 23 at the Carfax Gallery, London, and was acquainted with the likes of John Singer Sargent and photographer Baron de Meyer.
His society connections helped him secure commissions to paint portraits of wealthy families and celebrities of their day, including in the US where he had a spell before returning to England and living in Eversley, Hampshire.
It has now been discovered that the painting here was first shown at the fourth National Portrait Society Exhibition held at The Grosvenor Gallery in 1915. The sitter appears to bear a strong resemblance to the figure in Ranken’s oil Trooper of Royal Horse Guards, in Walking-Out Dress in the National Army Museum collection) and a watercolour in the collection of Warrington Museum and Art Gallery, both of which were gifted by the Ranken family.
The sitter is therefore believed to be Harry Frankland, a young Lance Corporal in the Royal Horse Guards. The portrait is estimated at £1000-2000 in Farnham on February 17.
2. Mid-century armchairs
The 20th Century & Contemporary Auction at Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood on February 13 includes this pair of François and Sido Thévenin Trône armchairs from the 1970s.
Measuring 152cm high, 74cm wide, bronze mounted wrought iron and leather, the chairs have a provenance to Château de Vouzeron in the Loire, France. The estimate is £7000-10,000.
Born in 1931 on the French Riviera, François is an architect and sculptor as well as furniture designer, using primarily metal and wood since the 1960s.
He worked for much of his career alongside his late wife, Sido, often collaborating on one sheet of metal simultaneously.
3. Fitzrovian set portrait
Included in Reeman Dansie’s three-day Fine Art sale in Colchester on February 13-15 is this previously unrecorded portrait by Rowley Smart (1887-1934).
The subject is Betty May, a singer and dancer and prominent member of the Fitzrovian set. She modelled for Augustus John and the sculptors Jacob Kramer and Jacob Epstein and was associated with the occultist Aleister Crowley.
4. Military medals
According to Mark Quayle of Noonans, Brigadier Sir Mark ‘Honker’ Henniker’s “finest hour came when he masterminded the daring night-time rescue of the beleaguered remnants of the British 1st Airborne Division from Arnhem in September 1944”.
The Mayfair auction house is offering a group of 12 medals awarded to Henniker, one of the founders of the division, on February 14 estimated at £60,000-80,000, consigned by family.
As the first Chief Royal Engineer, 1st Airborne Division, Henniker was integral to the planning of the Bruneval Raid, February 1942, and the attempted destruction of the Heavy Water Production Plant at Telemark, Norway, in November the same year. He helped plan the airborne element of the invasion of Sicily (Operation Husky) and took part in the airborne landings by glider as part of HQ 1st Airlanding Brigade, in July 1943.
He was responsible for the planning and execution of Operation Berlin: the night-time evacuation of the remnants of the beleaguered 1st Airborne Division under Roy Urquhart, trapped in German-occupied territory just west of Arnhem.
5. Vice Admiral portrait
This unsigned early 19th century oil on canvas portrait measuring 2ft 2in x 2ft 5in (65 x 72cm) depicts Vice Admiral Sir Edward James Foote.
According to a label verso it was painted in Bombay c.1800 and comes for sale in Wooller, Northumberland, from a local titled family at Railton’s on February 16. It has what Jim Railton calls “a come and buy me” estimate of £200-300.
Sir Edward was involved in the controversial decision by Nelson in 1799 to execute rebels, including women and children, following a revolt against the crown in Naples. After Nelson’s death at Trafalgar in 1805, Foote strongly criticised Nelson’s decisions.