Rarely seen works by John Millar Watt, depicting views from the village of Dedham where he and his sketching partner Alfred Munnings lived, feature in Bonhams
sale of paintings by East Anglian artists on November 19 in Knightsbridge, London.
In 1923, when Millar Watt moved to Dedham with wife and fellow artist Amy Watt, he was already well known as a cartoon strip artist. He created his Daily Sketch strip 'Pop' in 1921 and it ran daily for the following three decades. The strip became such a regular feature that when he wished to terminate it in the late 30s, he was persuaded that it ought to continue to boost the war effort and 'morale'. King George and Churchill were both identified as fans.
Dedham was where Millar Watt and Munnings became friends. The pair would often drive out on sketching trips into the East Anglian countryside, and the Munnings were frequent guests at the Watts table, not least because Amy was an excellent cook. In 1946, when the Daily Sketch published its anniversary edition to commemorate 25 years of the 'Pop' cartoon, Sir Alfred Munnings, one of the many artists to contribute, wrote:
"I have the greatest admiration for Millar Watt both as an artist and a man. I have known him for years. Some of my happiest days have been out sketching with him in Suffolk.
The commercial success of Millar Watt as cartoonist, illustrator and creator of popular advertising images, meant that his painterly output was relatively slight. The works on offer in Bonhams' November East Anglian pictures sale are the first significant works of his to come to auction for some time.
The November sale includes three large oils of Stour Valley views, and the exquisite 'Woodcutter' estimated at £1,500-2,000. Millar Watts works will hang alongside a number of works by his great friend Alfred Munnings, including a watercolour of horses, titled 'Off into the fields' and estimated at £8,000-12,000, that he painted when he just 21 years old.