'Red Grouse in flight' by Archibald Thorburn – £65,000 at Charterhouse.

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The signed pictures of partridges and grouse offered at Charterhouse (25% buyer’s premium) in Sherborne on July 22 came from Summerfield House, a 19th century country home with picturesque views towards the River Exe.

Summerfield had not changed much during the 120 years the vendor’s family had lived there and the watercolours “were probably bought new” by the family in 1906, said Charterhouse auctioneer Richard Bromell.

Both frames appeared to be original and the watercolours themselves were described as “in great condition”, having spent their life hanging on the walls of a dimly lit study.

Size seldom seen


'Covey of grouse' by Thorburn – £43,000 at Charterhouse.

Watercolours of this size, condition and market freshness rarely appear on the secondary market.

Slightly larger at 21in x 2ft 6in (54 x 76cm), Red Grouse in flight (1905) was knocked down to a London buyer for £65,000 against an £12,000-18,000 estimate.

Measuring 19in x 2ft 6in (48 x 77cm) and guided at £10,000-15,000, Covey of grouse (1906) was secured by a West Country collector for £43,000.

According to Artprice by Artmarket, these are the highest prices achieved in the regions for Thorburn’s watercolours.

Other notable prices outside London in recent years include the £24,500 paid for a watercolour of a cock pheasant in woodland at Woolley & Wallis in September 2016 and two market-fresh watercolours of grouse that made £17,000 and £11,500 last November at Dorset auction house Busby. All three were smaller than the Charterhouse pair.