Rediscovered sketch book belonging to Norfolk artist Campbell Mellon to go under the hammer
- Credit: Archant
He became famous as the Lowry of the East, committing to canvas many times the scenic sandy sweep at Gorleston dotted with funseekers.
And while his paintings fetch tens of thousands of pounds a newly discovered sketch book is being given a more modest price tag at odds with the interest it is creating among enthusiasts.
The drawings, although 'rough', are shedding new light on how renowned Norfolk artist Campbell Mellon approached his landscape compositions, enabling the viewer to see what he was looking for.
Thought to date from an earlier period in his career the 100-year-old book contains working versions of some of his paintings including seaside scenes as well as rural and Broadland views.
It has been Ray Clements' most treasured possession for more than 40 years.
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Left to him by his aunt Alice who was a friend of Campbell Mellon, he said he always appreciated and enjoyed the pictures recognising them as the work of a skilled artist.
However it wasn't until recently that he began to explore the possibility of the yellowing pages being worth anything.
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Although it had been stored away in a drawer for decades, having been out in the field the pages were showing their age, he said.
'I could see it was well drafted, not just the scratchings of an elderly artist. From what I have found he was a very popular man and a fine gentleman.
'When I contacted the auction house there was great excitement. They knew his work and were enthusiastic. Later I studied the drawings more closely and looked at some of his established oils and could see a relationship.
'It has all been rather exciting.'
Mr Clements, who has retired from TV advertising and lives in Eastbourne, said his aunt who hailed from Gorleston, also left him many photographs and while Campbell Mellon is probably pictured he has no likeness to compare them to.
Daniel Wright picture specialist at Bonhams in Bury St Edmunds said it was the only known example of a sketchbook belonging to one of East Anglia's most popular artists.
'It is an unusual thing,' he said. 'It will be of interest to collectors but we wont really know until we get into the auction. His paintings can make in excess of £20,000 but he is one of those artists that punches well above his weight as it is the smaller items that make money like paintings on the back of cigar boxes.
'In 1924 he exhibited a painting at the Royal Academy that really set his style with a scene from his studio window overlooking the beach on August bank holiday, an incredibly huge beach scene.
'The sketches in the book are fairly slight and not highly detailed, they are more about composing scenes. There are one or two from his famous beach scenes and these are the ones that excite people.'
Although not having the commercial cache of the paintings themselves which can be hung and enjoyed, the sketch book is of academic interest and has been given a nominal lower estimate of £600.
It will go under the hammer in London on November 17 in a sale devoted to East Anglian artists.
Also vying for the bidders' attention will be works by Seago, Munnings and Arnesby Brown. The star lot however is said to be another Campbell Mellon - a work in oils with a price tag of up to £18,000 depicting Hopton cliffs.