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‘World’s most important sale’ of local art to take place in Norfolk

PUBLISHED: 11:36 29 September 2017

Munnings' Romantic Couple

Munnings' Romantic Couple

Archant

Kevin Lines, a fine art expert with Keys previews some of the East Anglian art coming up for sale in an event which has global interest

Arnolds Keys Arnolds Keys

If like me, you love Norfolk, you will be quick to champion our county whenever you can. Fortunately for me, working in the fine art field, that is an easy task, because Norfolk – and East Anglia more widely – has long been a globally-important hub for painters, and as such has attracted some of the UK’s leading artists to live and work here.

Names like Seago, Munnings and Arnesby Brown are all inextricably linked with the region, and painters of the renowned Norwich School have a worldwide reputation. For this reason, auctions focusing on works by East Anglian artists always attract great interest wherever they are held – and the biggest of them all takes place in Norfolk next month.

Keys’ East Anglian Art Sales are universally recognised as the most important auctions in the world of works by artists from the region. Each time the eyes of the fine art world are focused on our salerooms in Aylsham, with national and international bidders both online and on the telephone joining the buzzing crowd of dealers, collectors and enthusiasts in the room itself.

With good reason, the 20th century painter Edward Seago (1910-1974) often features high on the wish lists of buyers at these sales. Born in Norwich, he was a prolific painter, and over 19,000 of his works remain. He was famously the favourite artist of the late Queen Mother.

Seago's Old Houses at Middleberg Seago's Old Houses at Middleberg

We have two works by Seago in next month’s sale, including a large oil on board painting of Walton Backwater in Essex. This work, measuring 24 inches by 16 inches, demonstrates the impressionistic style which is typical of Seago, and we are expecting big interest in the work, which has a pre-sale estimate of £25,000-£30,000. The other Seago in the sale is more unusual in that it is a watercolour, entitled ‘Old Houses at Middleberg’. A smaller work, it is immediately appealing, and has a pre-sale estimate of £4,000-£6,000. Following the stir caused in the art world at our July Fine sale, when we sold a previously unseen painted sketch by Alfred Munnings, we are very excited to be offering another unseen work by the artist in October’s sale.

Born in Mendham in Suffolk in 1878, Munnings is best known as one of England’s finest painters of horses. He originally trained as a printer, becoming apprenticed to a Norwich printer in 1892, aged 14. He spent most of this time designing and drawing advertising posters, while attending Norwich School of Art in his spare time. The lure of art clearly won out, because when he finished his six year printing apprenticeship, he immediately became a full-time painter.

The picture in next month’s sale dates from the time he was creating advertising artwork. Painted in 1906, and exhibited at the Norwich Art Circle the following year, the work is a watercolour of a romantic couple, measuring 16 inches by 12 inches. It has been in private hands pretty much since it was painted, and this sale will be the first time the work has been seen publicly for over a century. It has a pre-sale estimate of £12,000-£15,000. Sir John Arnesby Brown ranks alongside the top British impressionists. Born in 1866, he joined the colony of artists living and working at St Ives in Cornwall, before settling in Haddiscoe in Norfolk, where he painted his best known pastoral landscapes, presenting a timeless, naturalistic view of the countryside (although in later life he also became interested in the industrial landscape, depicting rail yards and brickworks around King’s Lynn). He regularly exhibited at the Royal Academy between 1891 and 1942, and was knighted in 1938 for his services to art. Although not perhaps as well known as Seago and Munnings, Arnesby Brown’s works are just as much in demand in the saleroom, and we have five of his works going under the hammer in our October sale. Included in those is an oil on canvas view of Morston, which has a pre-sale estimate of £8,000-£10,000. Alongside all of this, there are works by all four famous Cotmans (John Sell, John Joseph, Miles Edward and Frederick George), Henry Bright, James Stark and an incredible 19 works by Stephen Batchelder, as well as the first part of the extensive collection of the late Peter Kennedy Scott, who was the oracle on the Norwich School of Artists until his sad recent passing.

So it’s hardly surprising that the eyes of the art world will be on Norfolk next month – it’s another reason to be proud of our incredible county. Keys Fine Art Auctioneers’ East Anglian Art Sale takes place on Friday October 27, and is the country’s (and indeed the world’s) leading auction of works by East Anglian artists, attracting global buyers.

Seago's Walton Backwater Seago's Walton Backwater

A full catalogue will be available next week at www.keysauctions.co.uk.

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