Pitched at £200-400 in a July 4 Cambridge sale held by Cheffins (22.5% buyer’s premium), but sold instead for £16,000, was a lot offering an octavo sketchbook of “amateur… caricatures, sketches and watercolours” and a lady’s scrap album.
Among the attractions of the latter were a number of very small drawings and watercolours, some signed or attributed to Charles D’Oyly, a member of the Bengal Civil Service as well as a talented artist and author/illustrator.
Also part of the album was a watercolour inscribed “Calcutta, April 8th 1820” and signed “G Chinnery”. It was during during his service in Dacca that D’Oyly met, was influenced by and became a close friend of the artist George Chinnery, and the two men went on several expeditions together.
Much of Chinnery’s life was spent in India and southern China, the latter residence leading to his familiar nickname of ‘Chinese’ Chinnery.
Mrs Smith causes a flutter
In a June 20 sale held by Bonhams (25/20/12.5% buyer’s premium), an album of 40 watercolours of birds, plants, views and copies of Old Master paintings, all signed by a Mrs Sara Smith, was valued at £600-800 but sold for £25,000.
The artist had been born Sarah Stone, and it was under that name that she worked as natural history and scientific illustrator and painter from 1777-1820.
Some of her work featured specimens brought back from expeditions to Australia and the Pacific and, as such, were the first studies of many species.
A number were reproduced as plates in the 1790 Journal of a Voyage to New South Wales by John White, first surgeon general of the Australian colony – one of the famous ‘First Fleet’ books.
However, the watercolour of parakeets reproduced above, one of three artworks featured in the online catalogue entry, is not one of the avian subjects in that work.