Roland Green paintings to go on sale in Hickling
They are paintings which have already caught the discerning eye of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh - and soon the public will be able to follow in their Royal footsteps and own one.
Retired Royal Navy Commander David Joel is selling his lifetime collection of the great Norfolk artist Roland Green to raise funds for Norfolk Wildlife Trust (NWT).
A sale of 25 framed bird paintings will go on sale at the Wildlife and Art Gallery, Lavenham, Suffolk, from September 1 to 9 and 200 watercolours and oils will then be sold at Hickling Barn, in Hickling, on September 14 and 15.
In recognition of the Queen's tireless work as a long-serving patron of NWT, he first offered the Royal couple the opportunity to each choose a painting from his collection as a gift.
Cmdr Joel, 83, said: 'They very graciously accepted the offer and my daughter Suzi, who lives at Cley, delivered them to Buckingham Palace.'
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The Queen had chosen a picture of a kingfisher while the Duke had picked one of six sanderlings diving in flight.
He said: 'The Queen is delighted with the paintings, which are now at Balmoral, and she is happy for us to use the Royal connection to publicise the forthcoming sales. It is wonderful to have backing from the highest in the land.'
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Cmdr Joel, who lived in a listed lighthouse at Sutton Bridge, Lincolnshire, until he moved to Hampshire two years ago, is grateful to the prolific artist for instilling in him a love of painting when he was still a Paston schoolboy.
Fondly recalling childhood meetings with Green at the bird painter's Hickling home, he said: 'There was not anyone on the Broads who did not know about him.
'He lived in the reedbeds and people thought he was a hermit, but he was anything but.
'He was an extrovert who gave talks at school and loved enthusing children with his love of art.'
Cmdr Joel, who commanded eight ships during his distinguished career, said Green was unequalled in the way he caught birds in flight.
'Modern artists use photographs but Green worked only from observation and that is why his birds look absolutely real,' he said.
Green had started his art collection off by giving him sketches, intending the young student to draw on the back. 'I never did,' said Cmdr Joel.
The first Green picture he had bought was an image of a pregrine falcon - 'purchased with birthday money when I was 15 for the princely sum of 15 shillings.'
He said passing his collection on to private buyers rather than selling the paintings to museums which might only show them once a year was 'the only thing to do'.
Describing the images as a 'lovely reminder of the 1940s period', he said: 'This will be the chance for the public to buy a Green work for an affordable price. Small unframed drawings and watercolours are priced from �20 while the largest paintings are on sale for �800.'
Along with the primary benefactor, NWT, a donation will be made to the Norfolk and Norwich Naturalists' Society.