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British, European and Sporting Art Sale Preview (1)

29th June 2023.

The British, European and Sporting Art Sale at Tennants Auctioneers will see a fine equestrian portrait attributed to Thomas Spencer (1700-1763) go under the hammer. ‘Lady Caroline Held by a Groom, Newmarket’ will be offered with an estimate of £10,000-20,000 (all figures exclude buyer’s premium). The painting is reputedly a depiction of the filly Lady Caroline, which was bred by William Metcalfe Esq. near Beverley and sold to the Earl of Portmore, shown after winning His Majesty’s Plate of 100 Guineas for five-year-old mares on 20th April 1745 at Newmarket. Spencer is known for his highly spirited portraits of racehorses and is thought to have trained with fellow equestrian artist James Seymour. The painting had been previously sold in Tennants Auctioneers’ 1987 four-day auction held onsite at Newby Hall.

Montague Dawson (1890-1973) is known for his dramatic depictions of sailing ships, usually clippers and warships of the 18th and 19th centuries. “HMS Amethyst running the Yangtse Gauntlet, 30th July 1949”, a fine example of his work painted specifically for The Sphere Magazine, an illustrated weekly newspaper offering news from around the Empire, is offered with an estimate of £10,000-15,000. In 1949 during the Chinese civil war, HMS Amethyst was ordered up the Yangtse river to act as defence for the British Embassy at Ninjang. Communist artillery attached the ship, and in an attempt to evade the heavy fire she ran aground and tragically 17 of the crew were lost. The painting depicts the moment the ship returns fire soon after starting her dash down the river. After numerous attempts to re-float the ship, it was returned to first the British Far East Fleet at Shanghai, before arriving three months later in Hong Kong, its ordeal having been followed by readers avidly.

A rich and plentiful still life of game, fruit and flowers by Hendrik Reekers (1815-1854) hails from the Estate of Martin & Felicity Mackintosh of Harrogate. Offered with an estimate of £5,000-8,000, the work strikes a tension between highly realistic representation of each individual element, and the artificial composition which draws together Autumnal game, Spring Flowers and exotic summer fruits. From the collection is “The Idlers” by John Edward Newton (fl. 1835-1891) (estimate: £5,000-7,000), ‘A Quite Moment in high Summer’ by Arthur Wardle (1864-1949) (estimate: £2,000-3,000), and the early 19th century ‘Shepherd and his Flock’ by J Digby Curtis (estimate: £3,000-5,000).

From a Private Collection in the North West comes “Study for the Spirit of Justice” by Ford Madox Brown (1821-1893) (estimate: £3,000-5,000). Exhibited in the City of Manchester Art Gallery’s Autumn exhibition in 1911, the study was a working watercolour sketch for a large-scale cartoon of the same subject submitted for a competition to award commissions for the decoration of the newly built Palace of Westminster. It depicts the personifications of Justice, Mercy, Erudition, Truth and Wisdom, an allegorical representation of the House of Lords. Whilst it was not selected, it achieved acclaim from fellow artists. A further watercolour sketch for the cartoon is held in the Manchester City Art Gallery.

From the same estate is a three-quarter length Portrait of a Lady by Arthur Hughes (1832-1914) (estimate: £3,000-5,000), and a ‘Portrait of George Waugh’ by William Holman Hunt (1827-1910) is offered with an estimate of £2,000-3,000. The sitter was the brother of the artist’s first wife, Fanny. The lawyer lived with his parents in Bayswater, but sadly died at 34 having accidentally drowned in the sea off Devon. It seems that the portrait was executed after his death, with the likeness taken from a photograph prior to 1874, when the arts cut of contact with his family-in-law. The portrait was once owned by writer Evelyn Waugh. 


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