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Leading Keys 102-lot auction on February 9 is this oil on canvas by Harold Wyllie (1851-1931) of the Channel Fleet during a sailing exercise off Lisbon in 1847. Wyllie’s painting was first exhibited at the City of Bradford Gallery in 1957 and has been consigned as part of the Diploma Collection from the RSMA. It is estimated at £15,000-20,000.

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The group, known as the Diploma Collection, is made up of ‘representative work’ donated by every marine artist admitted to the society since it was founded in 1939. Still largely intact, the collection has been kept in storage and rarely seen until now.

The RSMA, which promotes the work of marine artists from its home at the Mall Galleries in London, has consigned the collection to Keys in Aylsham, where it will be sold in a dedicated 102-lot auction on February 9.

Keys head of fine art Kevin Lines describes the collection as “probably the biggest, and certainly the most important, body of British marine art ever to go under the hammer”.

Artists represented include Harold Wyllie (1851-1931), Claude Muncaster (1903-74), Charles Pears (1873-58) and Harold Workman (1897-75).

Leading the auction is this 3ft 2in x 5ft 4in (97cm x 1.52m) oil on canvas by Wyllie of the Channel Fleet during a sailing exercise off Lisbon in 1847. The Channel Fleet, originally formed to defend the waters of the English Channel from French attacks, was active around Portugal during the late 1840s, due to the end of the Portuguese civil war.

Wyllie’s painting was first exhibited at the City of Bradford Gallery in 1957 and is estimated at £15,000-20,000.

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