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"Captain of the Eleven" sets new world record for artist at Bonhams 19th Century Sale
‘Captain of the Eleven’ was painted in 1882 and became a lasting and much loved symbol of childhood innocence. Photo: Bonhams.

LONDON.- Philip Hermogenes Calderon’s ‘Captain of the Eleven’, one of the most popular British Victorian images of childhood, was the top lot in Bonhams’ 19th century paintings, drawings and watercolours sale on 11th July, selling for £289,250. In a sale that realised over £2.14 million, the Calderon painting set a new world record for the artist.

The star sale marks a fantastic result for the Blackpool primary school that put the painting up for sale. The work has hung in the school for the past eighty-six years, but was offered for sale at Bonhams in order to raise crucial funds. A school spokesman explained:

"The painting was donated to the school in 1926 by a local councillor. It has hung in our hall since then and has been part of the history of our school. The Governors and staff are passionate about ensuring all our children receive as many opportunities as possible to broaden their life skills and equip them for their adult lives. As education has changed over the years so too has our work at the school. Serving an area of high deprivation we strive to deliver exciting, inspirational teaching to raise our children's aspirations and unleash their potential. By taking the decision to sell our painting the Governors are ensuring we can continue to overcome the barriers faced by our families to secure a brighter future for our children."

‘Captain of the Eleven’ was painted in 1882 and became a lasting and much loved symbol of childhood innocence. In 1898, the image was published in the Pears’ Annual – a large format Christmas Annual issued by Pears Soaps between 1891 and 1925, which contained Christmas stories, advertisements and presentation prints. After inclusion in the Pears’ Annual, it was reproduced in countless posters, postcards and presentation cricket bats, throughout the 20th Century.

Bonhams Director of 19th Century Paintings, Peter Rees said, "Calderon's painting of a young boy, in his cricket whites, with clear complexion and cherubic face, was the perfect image to represent the Victorian view of children as models of truth and honesty. We are thrilled with the reception of the painting in Wednesday’s sale and particularly pleased that the price realised will help improve resources and facilities at the primary school."

Other top lots in the 19th century sale included Archibald Thorburn’s fine snow-scene, ‘Blackcock and Grouse in flight’, which sold for £193,250 and Rudolf Ernst’s meticulous Orientalist painting, ‘After Prayers’, which realised £145,250. A pencil portrait by Dante Gabriel Rossetti made £56,450.

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