Well, the auction action is starting again. This month, Bonhams, London, presented a small selection of 19th Century and British Impressionist art. I will say that after looking at the offerings, there were a couple of works that caught our eye, but after getting the condition reports, we took a pass.
The sale opened at 9 am New York time on the 22nd, and taking the top spot was Atkinson Grimshaw’s dark evening scene titled Greenock at £160K/$218K (£200K/$273K w/p – est. £180-220K). Next came a nice watercolor by Archibald Thorburn titled Blackgame that had been in the same family’s collection since 1966 (very fresh). The work carried a £60-80K estimate and sold for £90K/$123K (£113K/$154K w/p). There were four other paintings by the artist, but none came close to this one.
In third place, there was a tie. One was a classic British Victorian genre painting by Charles Burton Barber titled Only a Shower. The painting was recently offered in their June 2020 sale with an aggressive estimate of £120-180K and did not find a buyer. This time it carried a £70-100K estimate and sold for £70K/$95.5K (£88K/$120K). The seller originally purchased the painting back in 1999, at a Christie’s New York sale, for $222.5K… they took quite a loss. A few lots later, John W. Godward’s Stesicrate, a Neo-classical portrait, also brought £70K/$95.5K on a £40-60K estimate. This painting went unsold several times – 1998 (est. £80-120K), 1999 (est. £60-80K), and 2018 (est. £60-80K). Guess the fourth time was a charm! Rounding out the top five was Rogelio de Egusquiza’s Lady in Pink. The seller originally purchased the painting in 2006 for £55K/$102K (the Pound was strong at that point). It appears they tried to resell it in 2008 with a $200-300K estimate, and it went unsold. In 2011, they tried again at $140-180K – no takers. This time around, it brought £65K/$89K (£82K/$111K).
Several lots performed well… Charles O. Blanchard’s Portrait of a Girl made £32K/$44K (£40K/$55K w/p – est. £10-15K), Edward Seago’s Landscape on the North Coast 28K/$38K (£35/$48K – est. £8-12K), Robert M. Martineau’s The Pet of the Brood garnered £24K/$33K (£30K/$41K – est. £6-8K), and John Edward Newton’s Rival Performers brought £30K/$41K (£38K/51K w/p – est. £6-8K). On the flip side, some failed to find buyers; among them were Ansdell’s A Spanish Encounter (£12-18K), Irolli’s Maternita (£15-20K), Reggianini’s The Suitor (£20-30K), and Mancini’s Ritratto del Barone Caccamisi come Spadaccino (£30-50K).
By the end of the sale, of the 89 works offered, 63 sold (70.8% – not bad), and the total hammer price was £1.377/$1.88M. The low end of their estimate range was £1.364M, so they just beat it. To me, that is a positive sign. Of the 63 sold lots, 21 were below, 17 within, and 25 above their estimate ranges, leaving them with an accuracy rate of just 19%.
Stay tuned; there are a lot more coming this fall.