The top lot at yesterdays 19th Century Paintings auction at Bonhams
was Evening Concarneau by Terrick John Williams which sold for £144,000 - more than six times the previous world record for the artist at auction. He painted several views of this harbour, with this work being an excellent example of his early, large-scale scenes.
Meanwhile, a Female figure study by John Constable with a hidden history sold for four times it pre-sale estimate to make £24,000. A cutting from the Times of 1972 recounts how the drawing was discovered in the Ridley Colbourne album after it was bought by William Darby. When Darby was looking through the album, the previously hidden drawing came to light hidden underneath an invitation to a Royal Academy dinner. He suspected that the drawing may have been covered up by a previous Victorian owner of the album because of its sensitive nude subject matter. The work was discovered by a Bonhams specialist at a valuation day in Cornwall, and was estimated to fetch £4,000-6,000.
Seven paintings by Archibald Thorburn featuring ptarmigan, pheasants, woodcock and grouse also made great prices, far exceeding their pre-sale estimates. The Scottish artists beautiful paintings of birds and wildlife with attractive and evocative countryside backgrounds make him a popular choice for sportsmen, countrymen and birdlovers alike. The seven classic Thorburns in this sale were from his prime period in the 1920s and in pristine condition. Two scenes featuring ptarmigan achieved the highest prices recorded for Thorburn ptarmigan works - £72,000 (estimate £15,000-20,000) and £62,400 (£15,000-20,000). In total the seven works fetched £339,600.
And an interesting Portrait of a Gentleman with an unknown identity by George Dawe (British 1781-1829) was the subject of fiercely competitive bidding, finally selling for £43,200 against a pre-sale estimate of £4,000-6,000.
Charles OBrien, Department Head, comments, We were delighted with the sale today. Results were exceptional and prove that the market is still extremely buoyant for good traditional works.