Offered at the Cambridge saleroom’s fine art sale on September 21-22, The Devon and Somerset Staghounds (The Barle Valley from Winsford Hill) was a 2ft 6in x 4ft 2in (75cm x 1.26m) signed oil on canvas from 1949.
It came to auction from the family of Eric W Towler, who was based in London and who is believed to have bought the picture from Edwards himself in 1986.
The fact that it was large work of a known pack and location aided it commercially.
Even more so, the fact that the pack is one of only three staghound packs in the UK and the hunt on Exmoor National Park is one of the most historical (red deer have been hunted on Exmoor since Norman times when the moor was declared a Royal Forest) boosted it further.
To top it off, the huntsman shown riding with the pack was identified as Alfred Lenthall – a longstanding member of the hunt who retired in 1951 after 14 seasons.
Unlined and in decent condition apart from a few small scattered losses along the left-hand edge and some localised areas of overpaint, it looked a good bet against a £12,000-18,000 estimate. It eventually sold at £24,000 to a private Suffolk-based collector – proof that good money can still emerge for sporting pictures provided they are something above the ordinary.
Snaffles snapped up
Meanwhile, a watercolour by Snaffles (Charlie Johnson Payne 1884-1967) depicting amateur jockey Bobby Vivian being unseated as riding in the Grand Military Gold Cup in 1923 came for sale at Greenslade Taylor Hunt’s (19.5% buyer’s premium) biannual Westcountry Sporting Sale in Taunton on October 6.
It had one of Snaffles’ typically idiosyncratic titles: Annie Darlings Grand Military, Whoop! Bobbie’s ungunn’d and Clashing Arms out of it.
A member of the Lifeguards regiment, Captain Vivian (1898-1984) rode 32 winners under National Hunt rules from 1921-32. He took part in the cup at Sandown Park in 1923 (a race restricted to serving military amateur riders) but, despite the fall at a fence, he remounted and completed the course.
The 5 x 11in (12 x 28cm) watercolour, which was signed and dated 1923, had been handed down by Captain Vivian’s family through the generations, eventually passing to the vendor via their brotherin- law.
Estimated at £2000-3000, it attracted a good deal of pre-sale interest which translated on the day to a battle between the internet and a phone bidder – the latter eventually winning at £3500.