• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 7589

    Sporting Art

    23 May 2008, London, King Street

  • Lot 30

    John Cyril Harrison (1898-1985)

    Ptarmigan in mid plumage

    Price Realised  


    John Cyril Harrison (1898-1985)
    Ptarmigan in mid plumage
    signed 'JC Harrison' (lower right)
    pencil and watercolour heightened with touches of bodycolour
    22¾ x 31 1/8 in. (57.8 x 79.1 cm.)

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    Harrison's exhibitions were often completely sold out and over subscribed, therefore clients would take a ticket from a hat and would be allocated pictures by ballot. The present watercolour bears the contemporary inscription 'From exhibition at Tyron Gallery, Birds of Scotland and other subjects/Dec 1-17th 1976. Drawn by Ballot on 30-11-78 (15 names in the hat), catalogue no. 15. Ptarmigan' (on a label attached to the backboard).

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    with The Tryon Gallery, London, 1978, where purchased by the present owner.

    Pre-Lot Text

    JOHN CYRIL HARRISON (1898-1985)

    Although he was born in Wiltshire and spent some of his childhood (1912-15) in British Columbia, Harrison lived most of his adult life in Norfolk. He was very involved with bird life and conservation of the Broads and every year donated one of his watercolours to the Norfok Naturalist's Trust for their Christmas cards.

    Harrison's talent as an artist was precocious, it was recognised at the age of six but it was not until some years later and after having served in the First World War, that he went on to study at the Slade School of Art in London. Harrison was a regular visitor to Scotland, often with his friend the naturalist, Seton Gordon. In Scotland, Gordon and Harrison studied the Golden Eagles and as a result of their holidays together, Harrison later illustrated Gordon's book, Days with the Golden Eagle, published in 1927.

    Other publications by Harrison include Bird Portraits, published in 1949, which was both written and illustrated by Harrison. Bird Portraits contains many of Harrison's delightful field sketches and a number of finished watercolours including 'Launching into Space' (the frontispiece), the original drawing for which was sold in these Rooms, 16 March 1993, lot 83. After Bird Portraits Harrison was commissioned to illustrate Jean Delacour's monograph on The Pheasants of the World and in 1968 he completed the illustrations for Brown and Amadon's two-volume publication, Birds of Prey of the World. In addition to working in England and Scotland, Harrison travelled and painted in Iceland, in order to study the Wildfowl and in later life he also became a regular visitor to Africa, where he recorded both the animal and bird life but with particular interest in the larger birds of prey.


    London, The Tryon Gallery, Birds of Scotland and other subjects, December 1976, no. 15.