The Winkworth Collection: A Treasure House of Canadiana in London
1 April 2015
2015 began with the extraordinary sale of the late Peter Winkworth’s collection of Canadian paintings and Canadiana, the remaining contents of the Winkworth family’s house in Kensington. Winkworth was an Anglo-Canadian based in London who collected throughout his lifetime, and the sale on 1 April followed earlier disposals of thousands of works on paper from his collection to the National Archives in Ottawa. If the market for early Canadian paintings has been quiet in recent years, with little of note coming up for sale, the Winkworth pictures convened Canadian national and regional galleries, museums and institutions, distinguished private collectors and the North American trade, and a storm of bidding ensued over the marathon seven hours of non-stop selling.
Estimated to fetch just £1.1 million, the collection virtually sold out for £3.5 million, breaking numerous auction records in the process. (Colin Gleadell reporting on the sale, The Telegraph, Luxury, 14 April 2015)
At the end of the day, the sale had raised more than £3.5 million, more than tripling the pre-sale estimate. Highlights included a pair of anonymous paintings of Mi’qmak Indians (sold for £530,500), William Raphael’s small oil Bonsecours Market, Montreal (sold for £218,500) and Captain Thomas Davies’s delicate watercolour of the Niagara Falls painted in 1762, the first ever view of the falls taken on the spot (sold for £146,500).
Ernest Charton (1815–1877), Panorama of the City of Valparaiso, Chile. Signed, inscribed and dated ‘ER. CHARTON / VALPARAIZO. 1860’ (lower right); oil on canvas. Sold for £206,500, 29 October 2015
Topographical PicturesAmericas – Africa – Asia – Australasia
29 October 2015
The annual Topographical Pictures sale at King Street on 29 October included just 60 lots, reflecting how rare good material in this category has become. This was, however, a carefully curated sale, offering a cross-section of the leading artists and subjects in the field including works by Brunias and Cazabon in the Caribbean, Charton in South America, Raden Saleh in Indonesia, Chowqua in China, and Lozano in the Philippines.
An intriguing early oil on board of aboriginals in New South Wales, by an unidentified hand, performed strongly against its £60,000–80,000 estimate, selling for £146,500.
As is the pattern in these sales, the majority of works went to buyers in the lands depicted, so Charton’s Chilean port is destined for Chile, Raden Saleh’s exotic canvases will ship to South East Asia, and Cazabon’s Trinidadian suite to Trinidad.
There is a heartening return of collectors, both private and institutional, for the best art in the category. Of the many local markets that participate in the sale, South East Asia proved strong, Indonesia and the Philippines in particular, responding well to rare works on offer here, and there is renewed fire in the Antipodes for early Australasian material, a market which has suffered a prolonged lull after the glory days of the 1980s. Mainland Chinese interest in the work of the China Trade remains patchy, and if there was some bidding from Asia, encouraged by our preview of works in Hong Kong in the spring, our top China Trade paintings went to the more traditional collectors in this field, from America and the UK.
Auctioneer Nicolas Martineau, Topographical Pictures specialist and Head of Pictures, South Kensington, at work on the rostrum
Polar Art and Artefacts
8 October 2015
We continue to offer polar art and artefacts and more modestly priced topographical pictures in our biannual Travel, Science and Natural History sales at our South Kensington saleroom. The polar highlights this year were particularly timely and evocative: in the autumn of this centenary year of the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition we offered Shackleton’s medals and decorations, which produced a spellbinding 30 minutes on the rostrum for our auctioneer Nicolas Martineau. Martineau weathered a sustained barrage of bids from the room, the internet and a bank of telephones before knocking down the last of the 11 lots for £230,500, the medals together totalling £585,000. It was another spectacular display of the enduring appeal of this charismatic explorer.
Main image at the top: Canadian School, early 19th century, Mi’qmak Indian camp on a bay with Mi’qmaks shooting Canada geese; and Mi’qmak Indians hunting Canada geese. Oil on canvas (a pair). Sold for £530,500, 1 April 2015