Paintings by Norfolk artist J C Harrison fetch �535,338 at Bonhams auction

A collection of paintings by acclaimed Norfolk ornithological artist J C Harrison has smashed initial estimates by fetching �535,338 at an auction in London today.

The hoard of more than 100 works which went under the hammer at Bonhams was collected by the artist's friend and fellow wildlife enthusiast Terry Andrewartha, a cameraman who worked on Anglia TV's natural history series Survival.

J C Harrison was particularly renowned for his depictions of birds in flight, and the auction lots ranged from his sketchbooks to some of his finest works.

The existing auction record of �11,500 for the artist was broken many times throughout the sale as collectors and enthusiasts pushed the collection's total value far beyond its pre-auction estimate of �300,000.

The most lucrative sale was a painting called The Take Off, whose value leapt to more than five times its guide price of �4,000-�6,000 when the successful bidder paid a new record of �33,650. Only three of the 115 lots were unsold.

Peter Rees of Bonhams' 19th-century paintings department, said: 'We are absolutely delighted with today's results. To offer so many works by the same artist in a single sale was a big ask, but we but we felt that the collection was strong enough, and to sell 97pc is an amazing achievement. It was an exceptional collection by a very talented sporting painter, and the results prove that the market remains strong for the right works.'

Katherine Boyle, of Bonhams, said: 'It is the first time such a large collection has come to auction and so there was a lot of interest in it. It was a full sale room and there were a lot of people on the telephone bidding from all over the world, as well as the UK.'

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John Cyril Harrison, born in 1898, worked in Norfolk for many years and many of his paintings depict the county's rural landscape. He was a keen supporter of the Norfolk Wildlife Trust and practised taxidermy in order to improve his knowledge of bird anatomy.

He met Mr Andrewartha in the 1970s and the two men remained friends until the artist's death in 1985.

The collection amassed by Mr Andrewartha includes watercolours of golden eagles, snipe, herons, curlews, grouse, swans, geese, owls, partridges and golden plovers.