Auctioneers hope for Arab Spring

Apple Pickers Going Home, by the contemporary painter Mary Newcomb

Apple Pickers Going Home, by the contemporary painter Mary Newcomb

Auctioneers in the Cotswolds are hoping for an Arab Spring as paintings with a Middle Eastern flavour go under the hammer next week.

The Selected Picture and Book Sale at Moore Allen & Innocent in Cirencester features two watercolours by the renowned Italian painter Giulio Rosati (1858-1917), who specialised in orientalist scenes.

Backgammon Players is a 51.8 cm x 36 cm study of two Arabs seated upon a bench playing backgammon, and is expected to achieve between £25,000 and £30,000, while Two Horsemen at Full Gallop in the Desert features two Arab warriors on horseback, one armed with a lance. The 52 cm x 36 cm study carries an estimate of £20,000 to £30,000.

Backgammon Players by the renowned Italian painter Giulio Rosati (1858-1917)

Backgammon Players by the renowned Italian painter Giulio Rosati (1858-1917)

And the Arab theme continues with Middle Eastern Figures in a Desert Village with Buildings and Desert in Background, a pencil and watercolour study signed in pencil by the Dutch artist Marius Alexander Jacques Bauer(1867-1932). Bids of £1,500 to £2,500 are expected.

The Rosati studies are likely to be the top performers of the day. “It’s unusual for watercolours to be among our star lots; it’s usually oil paintings,” admitted auctioneer Philip Allwood. “But these are exciting, artistic and exquisitely executed. We are expecting significant interest from Arab collectors here and abroad, and from collectors of Italian artists.”

From these shores is the Lowry-esque Apple Pickers Going Home, by the contemporary painter Mary Newcomb, who grew up in Wiltshire and died in 2008, aged 86.

Her obituary in The Guardian described her as a “passionate painter whose art lay in the rhythms of nature and the rituals of rural life,” and whose “grasp of natural science that was anything but naïve.”

At 44 cm x 213.5 cm it’s a long, thin painting in oils, which should achieve between £10,000 and £15,000.

Rural life also features in Goatherd Leaning Against a Tree, which is listed as being in the manner of the French landscape artist Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot (1796-1875).

It’s hard to pinpoint a ‘genuine’ Corot: he allowed his students to copy his works and would touch up and sign student copies. The French writer René Huyghe once quipped that ”Corot painted three thousand canvases, ten thousand of which have been sold in America.”

“It’s a speculative sale,” admits auctioneer Philip Allwood, who has put an estimate of £1,000 to £1,500 on the 82 cm x 56 cm oil painting.

Boy Aged 13 in a Red Jacket, attributed to Paul van Somer

Boy Aged 13 in a Red Jacket, attributed to Paul van Somer

One of the oldest paintings in the sale is attributed to Paul van Somer (1577 – 1621) a Flemish artist who arrived in England from Antwerp during the reign of James I and became one of the leading painters of the royal court.

The 57.5 cm x 44 cm portrait in oils, Boy Aged 13 in a Red Jacket with White Collar and Cuffs, Holding a Book, is inscribed Ano 1620 – Aet, Suae 13. It carries an estimate of £5,000 to £7,000.

And bang up to date is a 51 cm x 64 cm charcoal and watercolour study of a parakeet by Quentin Blake (born 1932), the cartoonist and illustrator perhaps best known for his collaborations with writer Roald Dahl.

Saffron, a study of a Queen of Bavaria Conure, was a private commission for the vendor and features a cartoon of the family pet amongst blossom and foliage. Signed by the artist, the picture is expected to achieve £1,000 to £1,200.

Blake’s watercolour forms a perfect bridge between the paintings section and the sale of rare and collectable books.

Among the noteworthy titles are a first edition of Emma by Jane Austen, published in three volumes in 1816 – a year before the author’s death – and carrying an estimate of £1,000 to £1,500.

There are also a couple of lots featuring books of local interest. One, carrying an estimate of £100 to £150, features a number of titles including The History of the Ancient Town of Cirencester by S. Rudder (1814); The History and Antiquities of the Town of Cirencester by Thomas Baily (1842); A History of Cirencester (1924); A Cotteswold Shrine, being a contribution to the history of Hailes, County Gloucester Manor, Parish & Abbey (1908); An Account of the Parish of Fairford (1791); and Farmor’s School, Fairford by H.W. Hedges (1937).

Saffron by Quentin Blake

Saffron by Quentin Blake

A second lot includes Historical Description of Cheltenham and its Vicinity, published by S.Y. Griffiths & Co, Cheltenham 1826; Bettison’s History of Cheltenham or Visitors Guide Embellished with a Map and Plates; The History of Cheltenham and account of its environs (1803); The New Bath Guide or Useful Pocket Companion (1800); and Edwin Lee’s Cheltenham and its Resources, Mineral Waters, Climate, etc., Considered Chiefly in a Sanative Point of View (1851). A bid of £50 to £80 should secure the lot.

For fans of Downton Abbey or Upstairs Downstairs, there’s the real thing in a leather bound volume containing photographs depicting the Hicks Beach family and friends, and estate staff, circa 1860.

The all-star line-up includes Sir Daniel & Lady Lysons, Mrs Frederick, Mrs Blunt and Shirley Blunt, General Frederick and Sir C. Frederick, Mr Richard Mullings (Cirencester Solicitor), Miss Franklin, Lady Hicks Beach, Lady Rycroft, and Alfred Rycroft and Mary James – some names are still familiar in Cirencester today. A bid of £30 to £50 should secure this fascinating piece of Cirencester history.

The sale will be held from 10am on Friday, April 13. For a full auction catalogue, log on to

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