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Preview: British, European & Sporting Art Sale 16th March

21st February 2024.

Coming up for auction this Spring are three notable works by Adolphe Valette (1876-1942), a French Impressionist artist who spent the majority of his career in the North of England. Whilst he is best remembered today as being the highly influential tutor to L.S. Lowry, Valette created a significant body of work in oils, watercolours and drawing media. All three works are sold with provenance from The Perera Collection, the largest collection of works by Valette to have been assembled in private hands, and will be included in Tennants Auctioneers’ British, European & Sporting Art Sale on 16th March.

The works comprise: “Rocher Corneille, Le Puy” (estimate: £5,000-8,000 plus buyer’s premium), which was purchased by Mr & Mrs Perera from the artist’s wife Andre, and ‘A Lively Beach Scene, possibly Wales’, (estimate: £8,000-12,000) and ‘Self Portrait’ (estimate: £8,000-12,000), which were both purchased from the executor of Andre’s estate.

Valette was born in St Étienne but moved to England in 1904 to study at the Birkbeck Institute. The following year he moved to Manchester to work for a company producing greetings cards and calendars, but he was soon recruited to teach at the Manchester Municipal School of Art. It was here that Valette opened Lowry's eyes to the potential of depicting urban landscapes and brought first-hand knowledge of the great Impressionists. Indeed, Lowry later said: "I cannot over-estimate the effect on me at that time of the coming into this drab city of Adolphe Valette… He had a freshness and a breadth of experience that exhilarated his students."

Much celebrated for his series of evocative Impressionist views of Manchester, with its hazy streets and glowing lights, Valette now has a room dedicated to his work at the Manchester Art Gallery. Valette returned to Paris in 1928 and spent the remainder of his life in France.

Further notable works in the sale include an exquisitely detailed still life of a peach, black grapes and cobnuts on a marble shelf by Emilie Preyer (1849-1930), offered with an estimate of £10,000-15,000. The German artist was the daughter and pupil of Johann Wilhelm Preyer and followed in his footsteps to create fine works with exceptional attention to detail, realism, and vibrant colours. A further impressive still life by contemporary Dutch master Henk Helmantel (b.1945), ‘Still Life with Canisters’, will be on offer with an estimate of £8,000-12,000. Also of interest is a work by historical genre painter Edward Matthew Ward (1816-1879). “John Gilpin, Delayed by his Customers”, is offered with an estimate of £10,000-15,000 and depicts the hero of a popular comic ballad by William Cowper written in 1782, which features the draper Gilpin who rides a runaway horse. The painting was exhibited in the Royal Academy in 1851.

Amongst a good group of works from a Private Collection in North Yorkshire are “Porte de Saint-Denis” by Edouard Leon Cortes (1882-1969), on offer with an estimate of £8,000-12,000, and ‘Figures loading a horse drawn box sleigh on a frozen river’ by Dutch artist Jan Jacob Spohler (1811-1866), on offer with an estimate of £8,000-12,000. Also with a Yorkshire connection is ‘Aerial View of the Bridge at Whitby’ by George Weatherill (1810-1890) (estimate: £800-1,200).

The sale will also see the final part of the Studio of Raymond Booth come under the hammer. Raymond Booth (1929-2015) was perhaps the greatest botanical artist and illustrator of his generation, and his passion for the natural world shines through in his highly detailed oil studies of flora and fauna. The first part of the West Yorkshire artist’s estate was sold in a ‘white glove’ single owner sale at Tennants in October 2023. On offer in this sale will be 19 works, such as his study of the orchid “Paphiopedilum Appletonianum” (estimate: £400-600).  


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