Bid to £11,200 during a Cowes Week sale at HRD Auction Rooms (20% buyer’s premium) on the Isle of Wight was an Impressionistic rowing boat scene by Henry Scott Tuke (1858-1929), the artist best known for his Cornish beach scenes and male nudes.
Titled Rowing in the Shade, the 10 x 14½in (26 x 37cm) oil on board was entered with a £300-500 estimate in the August 13 auction. This was a tempting guide given that a painting bearing an identical title had sold at Sotheby Bearnes Torquay in 1981 for £750.
A poignant picture by fellow Newlyn School artist and plain air painter Walter Langley (1852-1922) cropped up at auction house Chorley’s (20% buyer’s premium) on July 23 at the Prinknash Abbey Park saleroom in Gloucestershire.
The Missing Fisherman, a signed 7 x 5in (17.5 x 12.5cm) watercolour, contemplates the perils of fishing life and those left behind, a subject that appears in Langley’s many depictions of Cornwall’s fishing communities. The diminutive work found a buyer at £4000 (£500-700 estimate).
Chorley’s director and auctioneer Thomas Jenner-Fust said: “Walter Langley still has a strong following, particularly in Cornwall where he founded the Newlyn School of plein air artists.” He added that the picture was “priced to sell” and “generated huge interest with numerous phone bidders”.
The sale also contained a depiction of the 19th century Royal Navy ship HMS Warrior being restored at Hartlepool in a £9m project during the late 1970s-80s.
The 2ft x 2ft 6in (61 x 77cm) oil on canvas was painted by Stephen Crowther (b.1922), the Sheffield-born painter who studied at the Royal College of Art under the guidance of the Modern British painter Carel Weight.
It came from the estate of the late Sir John and Lady Smith, best known for founding the Landmark Trust. Sir John was also instrumental in preserving the Warrior through the Manifold Trust. This personal connection to the vessel helped the painting achieve £4000 from a UK private buyer – a new auction record for the artist.
The previous high, Seahouses, Northumberland, sold for £3125 (with fees) at Bonhams in 2011 some seven years after Newcastle auction house Anderson & Garland dispersed hundreds of pictures from the artist’s studio.
Blyth man on Bellerophon
Exeter saleroom Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood (23% buyer’s premium) offered an early 19th century British provincial school head and shoulders portrait of Robert Nicholson of Blyth, the chief carpenter on board the Bellerophon.
The Royal Navy ship was fifth in the British rear line at the Battle of Trafalgar and was the ship aboard which Napoleon finally surrendered, ending 22 years of nearly continuous war with France.
The 22 x 19in (57 x 48cm) oil on canvas was offered on August 14 together with a late Victorian oil portrait of G Upham, a boat builder from Brixham who built a copy of the Mayflower. The pair came from a retired maritime dealer in the south-west, were believed to have been owned since the 1950s, and sold for £2300 (estimate £50-80).
Brian Goodison-Blanks, head of the maritime and sporting department at BHL, said: “Despite the poor condition and the lack of any provenance, the age and title seem to have been enough to attract a lot of pre-sale interest which came through on the day of the auction with strong internet bidding against the room, but they were eventually bought by a phone bidder.”