'Pastoral Landscape with Figures', a work catalogued as ‘circle of Thomas Gainsborough’ – £17,000 at Chiswick Auctions.

Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

West London’s Chiswick Auctions (25% buyer’s premium) reported a notable level of overseas interest at its latest dedicated Old Master sale.

It was the first sale put together by Dr Albert Godetzky since he joined as the firm’s head of Old Master paintings and works on paper this summer.

He has strong academic credentials, particularly in 16th-18th century northern European art, having previously been a curatorial fellow at the National Gallery. He is also continuing in his role as associate lecturer at the Courtauld Institute of Art while embarking on his auctioneering career.

The October 12 sale had some academically intriguing pictures that appealed to buyers in a variety of countries. Godetzky said he was “particularly thrilled by the sale’s international reach”.

Overall, 75 of the 84 lots sold (89%). Fewer than half of those works were bought by UK buyers (45%) with bidders from 16 other countries winning the rest. European buyers purchased over a quarter of the sale by value, with French and Polish bidders at the top of the list. Russian buyers were also active, securing 22.5% of the sale, while a further 7% went to bidders in the rest of the world including India, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the US.

Russian buys English

A Russian buyer secured the top lot of the day despite the fact that it was ostensibly a very English work.

The small 18th century pastoral landscape with figures by a bank was catalogued as ‘Circle of Thomas Gainsborough (1727-88)’. It had an old label on the verso for London dealer Arthur Tooth & Sons which, despite its condition being far from perfect, helped arouse more interest.

The auction house contacted Gainsborough expert Hugh Belsey, who provided assistance for the catalogue entry. This stated that the 10 x 13½in (25 x 34cm) oil on panel related very closely to a painting by Gainsborough now at the Yale Center for British Art in the US. The Yale picture, though, had previously been ascribed as by an unidentified ‘imitator’ in John Hayes’ 1982 monograph Landscapes of Thomas Gainsborough but has since been reassessed and accepted as an autograph work by Yale.

A related drawing from c.1745 also exists which is attributed to Gainsborough: Wooded Landscape with Group of Figures, now in the Morgan Library, New York. With the three figures to the right of the Chiswick work closely following the drawing, and the presence of the Arthur Tooth label, a few parties were willing to speculate whether the work here might be something more than a more routine ‘circle of’.

With an estimate of £2000-3000, it sparked a strenuous phone and internet bidding contest before it was knocked down at £17,000 to the Russian.

Amsterdam scene


'View of the Anthonispoort in Amsterdam' catalogued as ‘Jan van der Heyden and workshop’ – £15,000 at Chiswick Auctions.

Among the Dutch and Flemish works bringing interest in Chiswick was a view of the Anthonispoort in Amsterdam which had provenance to a number of notable collections, including that of Chevalier Sébastien Érard (1752-31) and later the salon hostesses and art collector Marquise d’Aoust (1826-88).

It had been ascribed as a ‘Dutch school’ picture in Charles Blanc’s 1861 publication Histoire des peintres de toutes les écoles but more recently had been identified as by Amsterdam townscape specialist Jan van der Heyden (1637-1712) and his workshop, which was how it was catalogued here.

Three autograph versions of the same view are known: one in the Hermitage in St Petersburg, another in the Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe and the third in a private collection in Eindhoven. While the Karlsruhe painting has differing details, the current picture, which came from a private English collection, closely follows the Hermitage version.

The 12 x 14in (30 x 36cm) oil on panel had a faint JV Heyden signature to the lower centre. With the £5000-7000 estimate again not felt to be excessive, it took £12,000.

New format

Godetzky’s next sale at Chiswick will be an Old Master drawings and prints auction on December 3.

Previously paintings and drawings were offered in a single event but now the firm has launched On Paper sales which offer a dedicated selection of works on paper spanning five centuries.