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'A view of Cowes on Phillip Island' by Haughton Forrest – £7800 at Ewbank’s.

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Haughton Forrest’s (1826- 1925) evocative oil Cowes, Schooner and other ships in a Bay against a mountainous landscape took £7800 (plus 25% buyer’s premium) against hopes of £1000-1500 on March 19.

Brazil to Tasmania

Forrest, the son of an equerry to Queen Victoria, left England with his family in 1875, initially to try his hand running a plantation in Brazil, but the following year moved to Tasmania where he became a Crown official.

In 1881 he gave up all his official posts to devote his time to painting the local landscape: two of his canvases (of Russell Falls and Mount Wellington) were chosen for the first set of pictorial stamps issued in 1899 by the six colonies of pre- Federation Australia.

Cowes, the subject of this 17in x 2ft 6in (44cm x 75cm) picture, is on Phillip Island off the coast of southern Australia. It is signed H Forrest, Cowes and indistinctly dated.

The three-day, 1660-lot auction in Surrey from March 18-20 – marking the firm’s 30th year in business – raised close to £600,000.

Although the number of visitors to the Woking saleroom was restricted in the early days of social distancing, bidders from all over the world helped towards a selling rate of 80%.

Chris Ewbank was relieved. “I realise it is a case of ‘early days’ and we need to be careful not to read too much into this, but the results across what is a major sale for us are very encouraging indeed. I’m delighted because we employ 35 people who have worked very hard to make this a success.”

All forthcoming Ewbank’s sales will be held online.