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On August 8, Dreweatts (24% buyer’s premium) in Donnington Priory, Newbury, offered an undated 12 x 9½in (30 x 24cm) study of trees at Brandsby Park in North Yorkshire by the leading Norwich School artist.

It came from a deceased estate and bore an old collector’s label for W Bateson Esq. Put in at a juicy £200-300 guide, it went on to sell for £4200.

“The condition wasn’t great but it was in at an attractive estimate,” said Lucy Gregory, picture specialist at Dreweatts. “It is a good price for a Cotman though. It might help that we know the location. Yorkshire is still quite popular and there are lots of collectors who collect works from that area, so that subject would command a bit of a premium.”

In the same sale, a similar-sized but slightly dirtier pencil and wash drawing of the north-east view of a French church near Caen sold for £1800 against a £400-600 estimate.

Dramatic ruins

Meanwhile, on July 14, Lawrences (22% buyers premium) of Crewkerne sold a Cotman pencil work of the dramatic ruins of Crowland Abbey in Lincolnshire.

A favourite spot of the artist, he returned to draw the abbey on more than one occasion at the turn of the 19th century. Other views are in several collections, including at the Tate and British Museum. Marginally larger at 15 x 12in (38 x 30cm), it sold for £4000 against a £1500-2000 estimate.

Last year, Bonhams smashed Cotman’s auction record with a premium-inclusive £338,500 surpassing the previous high, set at Christie’s in 2015, by over £250,000. The watercolour depicting Walsingham Abbey in Norfolk is one of three significant watercolours of the former priory which the artist produced after his return to Norwich in 1806.