Sketch of a bear by John William Waterhouse – £5000 at Duke’s.

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Dorset auction house Duke’s (25% buyer’s premium) included an early-20th century watercolour sketch of a bear by John William Waterhouse (1849-1917) in its Winter Fine Art sale on January 23.

From a local private collection, the 11 x 9in (30 x 23cm) watercolour and pencil on card was executed in 1913 when the artist was working on his third oil of Circe, the ancient Greek enchantress who turned mariners into animals using her magic wine. He considered various animals including panthers, baboons and bears.

It is likely this sketch was made at Regent’s Park Zoo, which was close to Waterhouse’s home. Estimated at £1000-1500, it drew trade and private bidders before it was knocked down at £5000 to an international buyer on the phone.

Face of Ophelia


Ophelia by Simeon Solomon - £6000 at Martel Maides.

Meanwhile, a late red chalk drawing by Simeon Solomon (1840-1905), the Jewish artist noted for his depictions of Jewish life and same-sex desire, made £6000 in a Fine Art, Antiques & Jewellery sale at Guernsey saleroom Martel Maides (17.5% buyer’s premium) on December 11.

The 14 x 11½in (35 x 29cm) drawing on toned paper of an androgynous-looking Ophelia had last sold at Sotheby’s in June 1996 for £3500. Dated 1890, it was drawn some years after the artist’s infamous arrest for ‘gross indecency’ when he was living in poverty at St Giles’s Workhouse in London. He died there in 1905.