Feburary Picture Sale Review


Mallams picture sale on Wednesday 26th February comprised 490 lots of prints, watercolours and oils which were enthusiastically received by dealers, private collectors and public alike.  The sale total was £200,000 with a very satisfying selling rate of 83%

Rather ironically, amongst the print section, one of the most keenly competed items was a 17th century bill of mortality which recorded the seven plagues to descend upon London from 1591 to 1665.  This recorded the number of burials and specifically the amount due to plague. The printed text ran until September 5th and it had then been updated and annotated in ink pen. These works do not regularly come on the market and this was reflected in the hammer price achieved of £2800 against estimate of £200-300

Lot 10 : 17TH CENTURY ENGLISH SCHOOL 'Londons Lord Have Mercy Upon Us', a bill of mortality for 1665 recording the seven modern plagues in London

Sold for £2800

Also within the print section was a fine wood engraving by Margaret Wells (1908-1998).  Originally born in Scotland she studied in London under Leon Underwood just prior to the Second World War and was later to reside in Suffolk until her death in 1998.  “The Thrush’s Song” depicted a bird exquisitely singing from a tree trunk flanked by dancing and naked figures looking to the heavens.  It was a beautiful study full of vibrancy and poise.  Mallams have sold several versions of this over the years usually fetching in the £300-500 price range and we were delighted that this one sold right at the upper end of this limit.

Lot 70 : MARGARET WELLS (1908-1998) The Thrush's Song, wood engraving

Sold for £500

With over 300 varied lots of watercolours and oils there really was something for all tastes and price ranges.

Two original works by the Scottish artist Sir William Russell Flint were on offer having come fresh on the market from two different estates.

Lot 168 simply titled “Barbara” depicted an auburn haired beauty loosely draped in a cream coloured dress poised with a cup and saucer and standing on a promenade off the coast.  In original frame it also bore the artist’s label and inscription verso.Flint was president of Britain’s Royal Society of Painters in watercolour for a time and is well known for his depictions of semi-clad ladies however this work was more reserved in nature but still keenly contested to £6800 against hopes of £1500-2500

The following lot depicted another beauty but this time titled “Naomi”, the sitter very much with a Spanish air about her and semi-reclined in a landscape wearing floral patterned dress.Again in original frame it was classic Flint with the model’s blouse tantalisingly falling off her right shoulder and partially exposing her breasts.Having been exhibited at the RA in 1962 the provenance was excellent and the work sold above estimate at £18000

Lot 169 : SIR WILLIAM RUSSELL FLINT (1880-1969) 'Naomi', signed, also signed and titled verso, watercolour

Sold for £18,000

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the day was lot 329A which was a small sepia head study of a gentleman.  One of twenty seven lots from a local Oxfordshire estate it was inscribed “Bassano” and believed to be by one the Bassano family of artists from Italy operating in the 16th and 17th centuries. Whilst only measuring 11 x 10 cms it was finely executed and with the sitter’s eyes seemingly semi-closed.  There was a collector’s monogram lower left however this was undecipherable.  It had previously been sold by Mallams back in 1982 for £300 but this time ended up at a staggering £23000

Lot 329A : CIRCLE OF JACOPO BASSANO AND FAMILY (16TH/17TH CENTURY) Head study of a gentleman

Sold for £23,000

An unusual lot was lot 339 which depicted an early 19th century gathering of figures in a country garden looking up at a hot air balloon gracefully sailing in the sky above with country church in the distance. It was also inscribed verso to Reverend Thomas Lane Freer, Rector at Handsworth. Bearing in mind the first hot air balloon flight was in 1783 it is rare to find early works such as this depicting this mode of transport.  This sold for £1300 against hopes of £800-1200

Lot 339 : 19TH CENTURY ENGLISH SCHOOL A gathering of well dressed figures in a country garden acknowledging an airborne hot air balloon 

Sold for £1300

Finally a fine pair of oil paintings by the Dutch artist Abraham Hulk (1813-1897) caused a stir later on in the sale.  Typical in his style, one of the works depicted a variety of sailing vessels at low tide at sunset, the other with fisher folk tending to their boats on the beach with further shipping out at sea. Both were fresh on the market having come from an Oxfordshire estate where they have been for many years.  In original frames and untouched they doubled expectations realising £8000 against estimate of £3000-5000

Lot 371 : ABRAHAM HULK (1813-1897) 'Shipping in a Calm' and Fishing Folk Tending to their Boats at Low Tide', a pair, signed, oil on panel

Sold for £8000

Thus the sale was a great success with plenty of interest in the room as well as online and we are now looking forward to our next picture sale which is scheduled for 25th June (please see www.mallams.co.uk for further details)

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