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A superb painting of North East interest by one of Britain’s finest marine painters of the 19th Century is coming up for auction on October 14th.
The signed canvas, which measures 65 by 105cm (25 x 41ins), was painted by John Wilson Carmichael and depicts shipping off Tynemouth, with the old priory ruins visible on the headland in the distance. Carmichael, who was born in Newcastle upon Tyne in January 1800, was the son of a ship’s carpenter. He exhibited at the Royal Academy in London for 24 years, showing a total of 21 pictures there, from addresses in Newcastle and London. “He was a superb draughtsman and had a fine command of atmosphere too,” says Richard Kay, picture specialist at the auction room in Crewkerne. “Carmichael was brought up in a mariner’s home and lived by the coast for most of his life. His best works combine a thorough understanding of water and light with superbly accurate details in compositions that are engaging and realistic without ever looking contrived. He knew that he could not afford to let a single fault be apparent in his works as many of his buyers were seafaring men too. In this impressive picture, Carmichael’s ability to capture the choppy swell of the North Sea is vividly depicted.” Carmichael was devastated by the death of his son in 1862 and gave up showing his works. He retired to Scarborough and died there in May 1868.
This imposing painting has been in the collection of a Dorset family for many years and it is in fine condition. It is expected to make £10000-15000 at auction next month.
A mighty masterpiece by a late Victorian painter is being sold at auction in October.
“The scene depicts an old sailor on a fine summery day by the estuary near Christchurch Priory in east Dorset and it is probably the painter’s largest work,” explains Richard Kay, picture specialist at Lawrences. “The artist, Frank Richards, was born in Birmingham in 1863. He studied at the School of Art and was elected a member of the Birmingham Society of Artists in 1884, when he was just twenty one. Having travelled throughout Europe, Richards was captivated by the immediacy and honesty of plein air painting (ie the new method of painting the complete picture outdoors and not from sketches in the studio). Back in England, it soon became apparent that the newly established colony of artists at Newlyn was similarly inspired and so he joined Stanhope Forbes and a small group of fellow artists in Cornwall. Richards would have already known the Birmingham-born artists Edwin Harris and Walter Langley who had settled in the small village and he became a regular visitor to Cornwall between 1892 and 1897, despite his dislike of Newlyn as `a filthy and smelly and somewhat lazy place`.”
The painting measures 150 x 227cm (59 x 90 inches), plus its fine frame, so it will probably be too large for many houses. However, it would be an eye catching masterpiece in any room that could accommodate it.
Curiously, the picture is illustrated in the book `Royal Academy Pictures 1892` (where it was exhibited in the same year) from which it is apparent that the figure of the fisherman was a later addition by the artist as it does not appear in the black and white photograph of the painting issued at the time of the exhibition (see image)
Richards held a solo exhibition at Dowdeswell Gallery, London in 1894. He was a regular exhibitor in Newlyn and St Ives and contributed to the Newlyn School exhibitions at the Castle Galleries, Nottingham and Dowdeswell Gallery, London. He also exhibited a total of three pictures at the prestigious Royal Academy in London.
He worked from addresses in Lulworth, Dorset (1885), Newlyn (1892), London (1897), Wareham, Dorset (1902) and Bournemouth (1917). Frank Richards died in Bournemouth on 12 October, 1935.
Until recently, the picture was on display at Highcliffe Castle near Christchurch and is now being sold by its owners, Shepton Mallet Town Council. In the auction on October 14th, the picture carries an estimate of £18000-25000.
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