Sunday, January 31, 2010

William Henry Midwood - Feeding The Bird

Oil on canvas
Size: 30 x 40"

John Atkinson Grimshaw - Whitby from Station Quay

signed and dated l.l.: Atkinson Grimshaw 1877 +

oil on board
11 1/4 by 17 in

60,000—80,000 GBP
Lot Sold. Hammer Price with Buyer's Premium: 114,000 GBP

In the late 1860s Grimshaw became increasingly interested in painting ships and the sea. On the one hand he focused on the great ports of London, Glasgow, Liverpool and Hull and on the other, he captured the more intimate harbours of the east side of the harbour with Whitby Abbey dominating the sky line. In 1867 Grimshaw painted what is arguably the first of his moonlit harbour scenes, Whitby Harbour by Moonlight (private collection) and from the end of the 1860’s, the fishing town was to become a frequently recurring subject.

Despite rarely exhibiting these views, Grimshaw’s paintings of Whitby were immediately popular with collectors and quickly snapped up directly from the artist’s studio. It was the mechanism of the port and the role in the life of the city which fascinated Grimshaw and explains why in all his paintings he always includes various signs of activity, such as the nonchalant figures of dock workers in the foreground of the present picture. The lights of the buildings twinkling in the night and reflecting in the still waters of the dock, further suggest signs of life amid the silent streets skirting the dock.

Grimshaw’s depiction of the port is full of painstaking detail and he clearly celebrates its industrial role as one of the most active fishing ports of northern Britain. Rather than concentrating on the smoke and dirt of a busy port he chooses a moonlit view and presents a beautifully detailed image. Pictures such as this appealed directly to the Victorian public’s pride in their industrial achievements and explains Grimshaw’s immense success as an artist.

The contrast of shadows and moonlight in the present picture is typical of Grimshaw’s oeuvre during the second half of his career. The artificial brightness of the light together with the blackness of the boats in the foreground recall characteristics of collotype photography that developed in the late 18th century and which Grimshaw, as an artist, would have undoubtedly been aware of. Like James Tissot he was also fascinated by the intricacies of ship rigging and as the masts and ropes of the ship exemplify he devoted great attention to these specific details.

'The 1870s were the period of Grimshaw's greatest success, with an increasingly popular local reputation, soon to spread to London...' (Alex Robertson, Atkinson Grimshaw, 1988, p. 35) In 1874 one of his pictures was accepted by the Hanging Committee of the Royal Academy for inclusion in the Summer Exhibition and regular sales of his paintings made him financially more stable than he had been previously. From 1876 he was able to rent a second home at Scarborough, named Castle-by-the-Sea after a poem by Henry Longfellow. It was on this rugged Yorkshire coast that he painted some of his most atmospheric nocturnes including the dramatic The Burning of the Spa Saloon (Scarborough Art Gallery) an event he had witnessed in 1876 and In Peril of 1979 (Leeds City Art Galleries) to the more tranquil Whitby from Scotch Head of 1878 (Richard Green Gallery) and The Lighthouse at Scarborough of 1877 (private collection). The similarity between Grimshaw's atmospheric views of the harbour at Whitby and those by the contemporary photographer Frank Meadow Sutcliffe, has often been noted. Grimshaw and Sutcliffe are not known to have been acquainted and it is more likely that the photographer was influenced by the painter rather than visa versa.

John Atkinson Grimshaw - Sun-Dip, the Home of the Heron

dated and signed l.r.: 1893.5. / Atkinson Grimshaw; inscribed, signed and dated on the reverse: Sun-dip _ The. home. of. the. heron./ Atkinson Grimshaw./ 1893. 5.

oil on canvas
18 by 27 in.

30,000—50,000 GBP
Lot Sold. Hammer Price with Buyer's Premium: 38,400 GBP

The element of the solitary heron at the edge of sunlit tarn had first been used in 1865 for a picture titled Blea Tarn at First Light, Langdale Pikes in the Distance (private collection). The present picture demonstrates Grimshaw's close adherence to Pre-Raphaelite principles which is apparent in his early work but also permeated into the work of his more mature period.

John Atkinson Grimshaw - On the Clyde

signed and dated l.l.: Atkinson Grimshaw 1877 +

oil on board
11 1/4 by 17 in.

70,000—90,000 GBP
Lot Sold. Hammer Price with Buyer's Premium: 120,000 GBP

The work of Atkinson Grimshaw is valuable and unique in several respects. He made a great popular success out of that amalgam of Pre-Raphaelite sentiment, nature and industry that dominated the culture of northern England in the later nineteenth century. His work is our only visual equivalent to the great epics of industrial change, the novels of Gaskell and Dickens.’ (David Bromfield, Atkinson Grimshaw 1836-1893, exhibition catalogue, 1979-1980, p. 5)

Grimshaw began to expand the scope of his subjects in the early 1880s, beginning a series of paintings of urban street scenes and docks set in the evening light for which he is best known. His growing popularity, particularly with art collectors in the northern urban centres, encouraged him to paint industrial views of ports and harbours in Liverpool, Hull, Scarborough, Whitby and Glasgow. Bromfield has interpreted Grimshaw’s port scenes as ‘icons of commerce and the city. They are remarkable in that they record the contemporary port’s role within Victorian life; they appealed directly to Victorian pride and energy. They also show that same darkness, a mysterious lack of complete experience of the subject which one associates with large cities and big business, which Dickens recounts so well in Bleak House and Great Expectations and for which Grimshaw’s moonlight became a perfect metaphor.’ (ibid Bromfield, p. 15)

The present picture is an early version of a composition which Grimshaw painted on several occasions, depicting the road bordered by a row of shops and houses facing the docks at Brommielaw in Glasgow. On one side of the composition tower the rigging of the ships, symbolic of Victorian commerce, balanced on the right by the shop-fronts with their welcoming golden light, which equally represent the trade of the age. The road is peopled by a contrast of fashionable ladies hurrying through the rain and road-menders warming themselves at a burning brazier. The attention to detail is meticulous and poetic but Grimshaw was not interested in depicting a topographically accurate view of Glasgow and in the various versions of this composition he altered the architecture of the buildings and the order in which he arranged them. He also invented the names for the shops in his pictures and altered the types of goods for sale in the windows for artistic effect.

A variant of the present picture entitled Shipping on the Clyde also dated 1881 (private collection) is reproduced in Alexander Robertson's book Atkinson Grimshaw (p. 75).

Dame Laura Knight - In the Fields

signed 'Laura Knight' l.r.
pencil and watercolour heightened with wite and with scratching out
21 x 29 7/8"

Saturday, January 30, 2010

John Haynes King

[The Letter]

OIl on Canvas
Size: 14 x 11

George Bernard O'Neill

[Storming the Castle]
signed 'G.B.O'Neill' l. r.
oil on canvas
15 x 19"
[Sweet Dreams]
oil on panel
18 x 13 7/8"

The latter painting was sold at auction in 2005 under the name Forty Winks.

Edward Ladell

[Mixed flowers in a Chinese vase with grapes and a wine roemer]
signed with monogram (lower left)
oil on canvas
21 x 17 in.

[Plums, raspberries and white currants in a tazza, with black grapes, a peach, a pear, whitecurrants, plums and hazelnuts on a draped wooden table, with a roemer]
signed with monogram 'EL' (lower left)
oil on canvas
17 x 14 1/8 in.

Charles Spencelayh - A fine specimen

signed and dated 'C.SPENCELAYH/1917.' (lower right)
oil on canvas
18 1/8 x 12¼ in.

Edmund Blair Leighton - The golden train

signed with initials and dated 'E.B.L.91' (lower left) and signed and inscribed as title (on the reverse)
oil on panel
11½ x 8 5/8 in

Frank Moss Bennett - Hot Toddy

signed and dated 'FMBennett 1929' (lower left)
oil on canvas
20 x 15 in.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Sargent Portrait of Falmouth Artist Gathers Charity Support

[John Singer Sargent (1856-1925), Portrait of Charles Napier Hemy, 1905]

Carlton Alfred Smith - The Hat Makers

Oil on canvas.
Signed and Circa 1900.
Size: 20" x 30"

Edward Thompson Davis

[The crochet lesson]
signed and dated 'E.Davis 1859' (lower left)
oil on panel
18 x 13¾ in.

[Kissing Grandpa]
signed with monogram and dated '1860' (lower right)
oil on panel
18 x 13¾ in

James Aumonier - The Woodland Path

signed and dated 'Aumonier/1886' l.l.
oil on canvas
18 1/8 x 26"

John Morgan - The Lion and the Lamb

signed 'J Morgan'
oil on canvas
36 1/4 x 28"
Seems to be the picture of the same name exhibited at the RA and the the Liverpool Academy both in 1861. Painted when he had his studio in Aylesbury, Bucks.

Alfred Barron Clay

[The Shepherd's Daughter]
signed 'A.B.Clay.1862' l.l.
oil on canvas
8 x 6"
fl. 1852 - 1870.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Selection of French Masterpieces from the Pushkin Museum on View in Budapest

[Henri Rousseau's painting 'The Muse Inspiring the Poet' (1909)]

Saffron Hill, London

Henry Andrews - Before the Hunt

signed and dated 'H Andews.fecit 1863' l.r.
oil on canvas
44 x 67 1/4"

Frederick Waters Watts - The Mill Pond

oil on canvas
20 x 25"

William Shayer - The Gleaners, Hampshire

signed 'Wm Shayer' l.r.
oil on canvas
28 x 36"

Edgar Hunt

[Chickens and Rabbits] and [Cock of the roost]
oil on canvas
11 x 16"
[Pecking Order] and [By the Rabbit Hutch]
oil on board
each 11 x 15"


The Aesthetic Movement is a 19th century European movement that emphasized aesthetic values over moral or social themes in literature, fine art, the decorative arts, and interior design. Generally speaking, it represents the same tendencies that symbolism or decadence stood for in France, or decadentismo stood for in Italy, and may be considered the British branch of the same movement. It belongs to the anti-Victorian reaction and had post-Romantic roots, and as such anticipates modernism. It took place in the late Victorian period from around 1868 to 1901, and is generally considered to have ended with the trial of Oscar Wilde (which occurred in 1895).

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Chippenham 1906

Just spotted this here:

Charles Burton Barber - Sharp, brother of Fern, a Collie dog

signed 'C. B. Barber / 1877' l..
oil on canvas
16 1/4 x 20 1/4"
At one time the Royal Collection had over 30 of his works

John Frederick Herring Jnr, - The Watering Place

signed 'J F Herring' l.c.
oil on canvas
24 x 36"

Heywood Hardy - Off to the Hunt

signed 'Heywood Hardy' (lower left)
oil on canvas
20 x 30 in.

Walter Hunt - Puppies' Breakfast

signed and dated 'W.HUNT 1885' and inscribed 'Puppies' Breakfast/By Walter Hunt./Augt 1885' (on an old label attached to the reverse)
oil on canvas
28 3/8 x 36 in.

John Charlton

signed with monogram
1874 l.l.
oil on canvas
24 x 20"
1849 - 1917.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Charles Spencelayh - "The Old Dealer" (The Old Curiosity Shop).

notice the estimate - a high price for a Spencelayh (1925) but considered by many to be his best work.

Shopping at Harrods

Thomas Sidney Cooper - Sheep Grazing, mid-winter

signed and dated 'T.Sidney Cooper, ARA/1860' (lower right)
oil on panel
16 x 21¾ in.

George Vicat Cole - The heart of Surrey

signed with a monogram and dated '1891' (lower right)
oil on canvas
20 x 35 in.

George Cole - Harvest Rest

signed 'George/Cole/1865' l.r.
oil on canvas
20 1/4 x 30"

William Huggins - Bideston Farmhouse

signed 'W. Huggins; l.l.
oil on board
23 x 17 1/4"
influenced by the Pre Raphaelite exhibits at the Liverpool Academy in its use of transparent glazes over a white background.

Monday, January 25, 2010

"Le Pont Sur Le Torrent," by Hubert Robertís

Outside my period I know, but who could resist this picture.
Simon Parkes, third from left, owner of Simon Parkes Art Conservation, and his associates lift the oil painting "Le Pont Sur Le Torrent," by Hubert Robertís off the ground, in New York. The 20 feet wide and 13 feet tall painting originally commissioned circa 1780 and formerly owned by newspaper baron William Randolph Hearst will be on public view from January 23rd through the 28th at Christie's New York and be sold on the 27th.

Serpentine 1851

Raoul H. Millais - The Promenade

signed 'Raoul Millais/36'
oil on canvas
20 x 24"

Campbell Archibald Mellon - Norfolk Broads

signed with monogram l.l.
oil on panel
8 1/4 x 11 5/8"

Edward Seago

[Morning Haze, Sheum Wan, Hong Kong]
oil on board
26 x 20"
[The Acropolis, Athens]
oil on board
20 x 30"
[Morning Haze, Ramsgate]
oil on board
20 x 30 1/4"

Charles de Sousy Ricketts

[Orpheus and Eurydice]
signed with monogram l.l.
oil on canvas
53 x 42"
The artist collected Greek pots, Tanagra figures and classical sculptures.
1866 - 1931.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Organ Grinder

Christopher Wood

I missed the first aaniversary of his death on the 6th January. Although I never met him his writings have had a big influence on me and I still learn so much from them. This was his obituary in The Times. R.I.P.