As brush-offs go, a visit to an artist’s studio led to a stroke of luck for a budding artist.
A hastily-scribbled, signed sketch by one of the world’s most prolific and successful artists is expected to sell for between £3,000 and £5,000 when it goes under the hammer at a Cotswold auction later this month.
The sketch of a shark in a box was drawn by Chalford-based Damien Hirst in a book which the vendor, who was hoping to find work at the studio, asked the artist to sign.
The sketch of Hirst’s 1992 Britart masterpiece Shark in a Tank of Formaldehyde – or to give it its full title The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living – was made inside a copy of a book of Hirst’s work with the equally long title of I Want to Spend the Rest of My Life Everywhere with Everyone, One to One Always, For Ever, Now.
The picture will be auctioned at Moore Allen & Innocent’s Selected Picture Sale on Thursday, April 28, along with a number of rare and unusual modern pieces.
Gracing the front cover of the auction catalogue is the cartoon face of a shocked horse by the illustrator Norman Thelwell. The cartoonist was well known for his humorous illustrations of horses and ponies.
When he died at the age of 80, in 2004, The Telegraph wrote: “Thelwell created some of the most recognisable images in equine art with his cartoons of freckled girls being bounced along on their recalcitrant spherical ponies.”
In 1963, the government’s Central Office of Information commissioned Thelwell to provide illustrations for a Public Information Film on road safety and horses. The only surviving copy of the film is now in the collection of the British Film Institute, while the illustrations stayed in the family of the producer and director, documentary film maker Peter Bradford, until now. Estimates for each illustration range from £500 to £1,200.
At around the same time, seafaring hero Captain Horatio Pugwash was sailing the seven seas and doing battle with his mortal enemy Black Jake in the BBC’s animated children’s programme Captain Pugwash.
In the early 1980s, Dorchester-based Gusto Graphics commissioned Pugwash artist John Ryan to create nine birthday cards featuring the pirate and his friends. The original pen, ink and watercolour drawings are now being sold on behalf of one of Gusto Graphics’ owners, with a guide price of £1,000 to £1,500 for the set of nine.
There’s much yo-ho-ho-ing going on in a substantial oil painting from the 18th Century Italian School, although the bottles depicted in The Festival of Bacchus are filled with red wine rather than navy rum.
In the painting, which measures 1.7m wide by a metre high, Bacchus – the god of wine – and his fawns lead a procession before a temple while revellers drink, dance and play music in the background. The unsigned oil is expected to achieve £5,000 to £8,000.
There’s a far more sedate party going on in The Piazza Quirinalli, Rome, from the School of Gaspar Van Wittel (1652-1736), with ladies in posh frocks and bewigged gentlemen alighting a coach at the steps of the grand building. The 34cm by 54cm unsigned oil is expected to achieve £5,000 to £8,000.
Also from the School of Gaspar Van Wittel is Santa Maria della Salute, a Venetian scene with figures and gondolas. The 25cm by 41cm unsigned oil is expected to achieve £10,000 to £15,000.
Scenes from exotic lands also feature in a collection of six original watercolours by Gerald Le Merchant De Saumarez (1859-1941), who painted British soldiers at home and abroad during the late 1800s. The artist painted the Scots Greys, officers of the Dragoon Guards, the Africa Corps and even members of the Sudan Army, and as the watercolours feature horses as heavily as soldiers, the pictures – whose estimates range from £300 to £1,500 – should appeal as much to collectors of equestrian art as fans of military memorabilia.
But aimed squarely at the equestrian market is Master with Hounds, a study of a mounted huntsman jumping a Cotswold stone wall with hounds galloping beside by Lionel Edwards (1878-1966).
Edwards remains one of the country’s best loved equestrian artists, and his prints always achieve healthy prices in the horse-loving Cotswolds. This original, signed watercolour, painted around 1930 and said to feature a member of the Cotswold Hunt, is likely to achieve between £1,000 and £1,500.