Aquatint views of Canada found in attic

There were huge gasps in the saleroom at Forum Auctions in Battersea, London this week as an incredibly rare double series of twelve aquatint views of Canada by military artist Major General James Pattison (1779-1847), sold in a sale of Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper for a staggering £162,500 against a pre-sale estimate of £30,000 to £40,000.

Hugely rare to have two series all complete, they comprised charming scenes of Canada, with six landscapes of Quebec and six views of Niagara Falls. Another reason they were highly desirable, as well as being aesthetically pleasing, was their perfect condition, which isn’t usually the case due to the passage of time.

It is believed that the storage in this case may have been a godsend for the sellers of the series, as they had been tucked away in an attic for many years and even when discovered, the owners were unaware of what they had. Deputy Chairman and International Head of Books at Forum Auctions, Rupert Powell, on a regular house valuation luckily recognised them for the outstanding works that they were.

Commenting on the find and the subsequent result achieved for them at auction, Rupert Powell, said: “We are delighted with the result of the complete double series of all 12 aquatint views by the military artist, Major Gen. James Pattison (1779-1847). As well as the double suites capturing the beauty of the Canadian landscape and landmarks, it is exceptionally rare to find one, let alone two suites in such magnificent, unspoilt condition. What is even more extraordinary is that they were discovered tucked away in a dark attic, with their owners having no idea of what they were.”

The prints are after well-known artists active in Canada in the nineteenth century. After competitive bidding on the phones and the internet, the stunning series finally sold to a very happy North American telephone bidder.