In the wake of Old Masters Week, two original chalk studies for lost paintings by Benjamin West found impressive price tags at Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions
sale of Watercolours, Drawings & Prints, selling for a combined total of £138,880.
Richard Carroll, Pictures Department at Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions said: "When the West drawings arrived at Bloomsbury House we anticipated a considerable amount of pre-sale interest and it was with great pleasure that we watched six telephone bidders and a collector in the room battle for these exceptional works. The final selling prices not only reflect the exceptional scale and quality of the two drawings, but also their importance in expanding our understanding of the artistic output of Benjamin West.
American born Benjamin West was a pioneer of historical painting, an Old Master who produced work for Nobility and Royalty, acting as residence Historical Painter for the court of King George III.
These works date from a period when West explored religious themes and appear to be preparatory studies of larger scale works which are now lost. The lost works later served as the basis for the engraved illustration in Thomas Macklins Bible, published circa 1793, but it is these chalk drawings that provide the first real insight into how Wests lost paintings may have originally appeared.
In The Paintings of Benjamin West, Von Erffa and Stanley suggest that the two lost paintings may have formed the outer wings of a triptych centred around Wests The Resurrection, now held in St Georges Parish Church, Barbados.
Thomas Carwitham (fl. 1713-1733), A sheet of studies, showing figures grappling, mythical gods and pyramids. Pen and brown ink, bears signature verso and dated 1713-14 , on laid paper watermarked with fleur-de-lis armorial device, 26 x 40.5 cm. (10 1/4 x 16 in), unframed
Carwitham is primarily known for his drawings held by Tate bought from the Oppé Collection, and also for the numerous mythological sketches he executed depicting scenes from Ovid's 'Metamorphoses'. It is thought that Carwitham was at one point the pupil of Sir James Thornhill. Sold for £7,440 [Lot 16]
Thomas Rowlandson (1757-1827), Two sportsmen, one possibly Rowlandson, out shooting in Hengar Woods. Watercolour, pen and ink, over pencil, inscribed in brown ink verso Hengar Wood, W. Camelford, Cornwall, circa 1795, 21 x 27 cm. (8 1/4 x 10 5/8 in). Provenance: Private collection, UK. Sold for £6,200 [Lot 78]
Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720-1778), Prisoners on projecting platform, pl.X, from: Carceri d'Invenzione, Etching, circa 1749-1751, on thick laid paper, Hind's first state before number, [Hind 10.I; F.32; Robinson 36], unframed, 410 x 540 mm. (16 1/8 x 21 1/4 in). Sold for £3,720 [Lot 186]
Robert Nanteuil (1623-1678), A large group of portraits, including French aristocrats, religious figures, military men, and scholars, comprising over 120 engravings, on various papers, 17th century, all unframed, various sizes, largest c.375 x 470 mm. (14 3/4 x 18 1/2 in), (c.120). Sold for £3,224 [Lot 221]