Watercolour of the Campbell’s River in New South Wales, Australia - part of a scrapbook sold for £75,000 at Lyon & Turnbull.

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But it was not the only lot that flew dramatically past expectations on October 6.

Another lot from the residence on the banks of the River Tweed, near Melrose, that generated great interest was an old scrapbook containing a large group of prints, along with a couple of intriguing watercolours.

It was catalogued as ‘Gibraltar, scrapbook… folio, miscellaneous engravings & lithographs including 2 watercolours, with caption ascribing them to Lewin of Campbell’s River and Vale of Clwydd, New S. Wales’. The estimate was set at £600-900.


Watercolour of the Vale of Clwydd in New South Wales, Australia - part of a scrapbook sold for £75,000 at Lyon & Turnbull.

Lewin belief

A number of bidders seemingly identified the artist of these watercolours as John William Lewin (1770-1819), an early topographical artist of Australian scenes who is believed to be the first free artist to settle in New South Wales, the first printmaker in the colony, one of the first private collectors, and who also published the first illustrated book in Australia.

According to his entry on the State Library of New South Wales’ website, Lewin “accompanied Governor Macquarie’s expedition over the Blue Mountains to assess the Bathurst Plains for agricultural and pastoral merit” and recorded 21 watercolour drawings during the journey, of which the library holds 15.

Among the holdings are depictions of both Campbell’s River and the Vale of Clwydd (previously called ‘Cox’s Pass’).

Could these watercolours from Lowood be lost related works from the same series, or perhaps later depictions of the same locations by Lewin? It appears that such speculation carried the lot upwards before it was knocked down at a final £75,000.