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19th-Century & British Impressionist – Bonhams, London

April 21, 2021

still life near a window

Alice Boyd

On March 31, Bonhams presented their 19th-century and British Impressionist sale, which included various works dating from the 1840s through the 1960s.

two neoclassical woman by a marble sculpture


In the number one position, they had a tie. Alice Boyd’s The Thames from Cheyne Walk (est. £15-20K) and John William Godward’s Waiting for the Procession (est. £200-300K) each made £190K/$261K (£238K/$327K – w/p).  I will assume that the seller of the Boyd was thrilled, while the Godward seller not so much. Moving to the number three spot, we have a bit of a dilemma. Lot 43, The Five Senses, by Henri Schlesinger, brought £160K/$220K (£200K/$275K – w/p, est. £70-100K). The only problem is the lot included five paintings. If we divide the price by five, each work sold for £32K/$44K. If we decide to pass over that one, then the next most expensive work was Grimshaw’s Greenock Shipping at £155K/$213K (£194K/$267K – w/p, est. £150-200K). Rounding out the top five were a landscape by Munnings, Brightworthy Ford, Withypool, Exmoor, that made £88K/$121K (£110/$152K – w/p, est. £15-20K – so that seller was pleased), and another Grimshaw, Scarborough from the seats near The Grand Hotel, at £70K/$96K (£88K/$121K – w/p, est. £80-120K).

an evening city scene in England


There were a few lots that surprised me.  The first was a small (7 x 9 inch) oil study by Godward that had an estimate of £12-18K and sold for £55K/$76K (£69K/$95K). Then there was a small (9 x 13 inch) landscape by Louis A. Lapito, Marina Piccola a Capri, that was expected to bring £1-1.5K and sold for £20K/$28K (£25K/$35K – w/p). A small (12 x 14 inch) portrait by Jan van Beers carried a £1.2-1.8K estimate and sold for £29K/$40K (£36.5K/$50K). And finally, Frantisek Kupka’s Le femme et la terre also had a £1.2-1.8K estimate and brought £25K/$34K (£31.5/$43K). Among the unsold lots were paintings by Unterberger (£12-18K), Springer (£15-25K), John Brett (£15-20K), Edward Sego (£35-45K), Harold Harvey (£40-60K), and Ziem (£40-60K).

When the sale ended, of the 83 works offered, 67 sold (80.7% sell-through rate – pretty good). The low end of their presale estimate range was £1.324M and the sale, including the buyer’s premium, totaled £2.05M.  Of the 67 sold works, 16 were below, 25 within, and 26 above their estimate ranges.  After adding in the 16 unsold works, they were left with an accuracy rate of 30% -- which is better than most.