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A Serene Landscape Painting Sold For More Than 200 Times Its High Estimate

A watercolor landscape by 19th century British painter David Cox brought a surprise result at an auction in January. Valued at only £80–£100 by Derbyshire’s Hansons Auctioneers, the painting went on to bring more than 200-times the estimate when it became the subject of an international bidding war. The work was eventually acquired by a private UK buyer for a hammer price of £14,000, or a whopping total of £18,386 ($23,215) with buyer’s premium.

The seller, a 75-year-old retiree from Radcliffe on Trent, inherited the painting from his mother 27 years ago, together with a number of other objects and artifacts. The watercolor was shown to Charles Hanson, owner of Hansons Auctioneers, at one of their regular valuation events at Memory Lane Antiques in Southwell. The seller was surprised by the result, despite being aware of Cox as an important British landscape painter.

A Serene Landscape Painting Sold For More Than 200 Times Its High Estimate

Portrait of artist David Cox (1783-1859) by John Watson-Gordon. (Photo by Heritage Art/Heritage Images via Getty Images).

The watercolor was signed by the artist, and depicted Lancaster Sands, a significant subject in the artist’s oeuvre. Cox’s other works on the same subject can be found in the Tate and National Trust collections, as well as at Dove Cottage and The Wordsworth Museum. A label from Agnews Gallery, one of London’s leading art dealers on the reverse of the work underscored the painting’s significance and good provenance. “We were flooded with requests for condition reports ahead of the sale,” Hanson told Birmingham World. “Because it had been in a private collection for so long it was, in effect, a lost David Cox painting,” he added.

David Cox is considered one of the most prominent painters of the Birmingham School, a group of landscape artists who worked in the city in the 18th and 19th centuries. Born near Birmingham in a family of a blacksmith, Cox began his artistic career as a theatre scene-painter, eventually switching to painting landscapes in watercolor. Later in his career he would paint over 300 landscapes in oil on canvas.

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