The painter in question was John Anthony Park (1880-1962), best known for his ‘en plein-air’ depictions of boats in St Ives harbour.
Park was born in Preston into a working-class family and as a young man worked in the Lancashire cotton mills, but he developed an early interest in painting, helping out with his father’s decorating business.
After moving to St Ives aged 19, he was able to study at Julius Olsson and Algernon Talmarge’s School of Painting in 1902-04 and, before long, was considered their star pupil.
After exhibiting one of his pictures at the Royal Academy, he went to Paris to study at The Académie Colarossi (where he was a contemporary of Modigliani) and continued to develop his favoured Impressionistic style of painting.
Although the subject here was different to his more commonly seen harbour paintings, this portrait of his wife Peggy drew admirers. The couple had married in 1919 and they moved to their long-term home, 3 Bowling Green in St Ives, in 1923, the same year that Park became a member of The Royal Society of Oil Painters. The 12 x 10¼in (30.5 x 26cm) signed oil on canvas laid on board dated from 1928, the year after he became a founding member of the St Ives Society of Artists.
Estimated at £100-200 on October 28-29, the portrait was bid up to £2600, at which point it was knocked down to an online buyer using thesaleroom.com.
Elsewhere in the Penzance auction, an interior scene by Ralph Todd (1856-1932) also drew interest against a £1500-2500 pitch. The 21¼in x 2ft 4in (54 x 76cm) signed watercolour A Refreshing Glass came to the sale from a large private collection and had featured in the exhibition Newlyn School Interiors at Penlee House Gallery last year.
Todd was among the first group of artists who followed Stanhope Forbes to Newlyn, settling in the Cornish town in 1884. Figurative scenes were his speciality but his output is sometimes said to have been rather uneven.
The David Lay catalogue, though, described this work as “an example of Ralph Todd at his very best”. With its interesting compositional arrangement and handling, it drew bidding against a £1500- 2500 estimate and sold online at £3300 – a decent sum in the current climate and seemingly the highest at auction since another Newlyn cottage interior with a woman darning made £4000 in the same rooms in 2014.