Derbyshire auctioneer Charles Hanson talks about items up for auction in his weekly bygones column.

A WATERCOLOUR by Alfred William Hunt broke our auction house record when it sailed past its estimate to fetch £11,000.

This star lot in our recent spring fine art gallery auction was an atmospheric rendering dating from about 1857 entitled “Snowdon after an April Hailstorm”. It smashed its lower estimate of £4,000 to be snapped up by a UK buyer bidding on the phone.

The watercolour was one of a consignment by Hunt (1830-1896) which was entered into the auction by a direct descendent. Born in Liverpool, Hunt was encouraged by Ruskin to practise art and exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1854. In 1864, he was elected to full membership of the Old Watercolour Society.

Most importantly, he was associated with the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and his works show an exquisite quality and poetic rendering of atmosphere as a consequence of this association.

The sale included eight of his watercolours, with a study of Robin Hood’s Bay, North Yorkshire, bringing £1,250 and a beautiful painting of silver birch trees at £760.

The fine art gallery auction included many hand-picked choice artworks from the 17th century to contemporary times. A sizeable portion came from the Tower House, a 19th century mansion near Bath.

The now-deceased owners had lived near Lichfield before retiring to Bath about 15 years ago. They built up a good collection of works with a notable emphasis on 19th century traditional but good-quality fare purchased at auctions, fairs and galleries throughout the UK.

Notable highlights from this consignment included a 19th century view of the Grand Canal, Venice, by J Vivian, which exceeded the £1,200 estimate to bring in £2,200. A small pair of oils of Cookham, by Alfred De Breanski Sr (1852-1928), found favour at £1,200 and a typical Derbyshire landscape by George Turner (1843-1910) unsurprisingly attracted local interest selling for £2,800, against a £1,500 estimate.

A private seller from the Uttoxeter area entered a number of 19th century and 20th century works, many of which will be appearing in the summer decorative arts auction on June 27. Of note here was an oil titled “Rainy Evening in Penzance”, by Irish artist Stanhope Alexander Forbes (1857-1947), which realised £3,100.

Marine art also fared well with an oil entitled “The Irish Postal Packet”, by Thomas Whitcombe (before 1763-1824), fetching £2,500.

Building on the success of this auction, Hansons are now inviting entries of fine quality paintings for their next fine art gallery auction on July 2. Entries close on June 1.

Adrian Rathbone, head of paintings, told me: “The picture market is more selective than ever and we have to be the same. Buyers are looking for established names, with a traceable auction price record. Our geographic location in Derbyshire means that we are very well placed to source and promote local artwork by the likes of George Turner, the Gresleys, Barnfather, Cubley and Joseph Wright, to name a few.

“I hope to see another good selection of Derbyshire art from the antique to contemporary. Furthermore, I am keen to promote good-quality Victorian art and 20th century art, in particular those with a sporting or equestrian theme for which we have a vibrant market.”

For further details, phone 01283 733988 or e-mail arathbone@

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