Silvery Moonlight could shine in sale

Silvery Moonlight by John Atkinson Grimshaw (1836-1893), one of Yorkshire’s most significant 19th-century artists, is coming up for sale in Tennants Auctioneers’ British, European and Sporting Art Sales on November 12 with an estimate of £100,000-120,000.

The painting is from the estate of Denton Hall in Ilkley, Yorkshire which was part of the NG Bailey group of companies for over 40 years until its recent sale. NG Bailey is the UK’s leading independent engineering and services business and is owned by the Bailey family.

John Atkinson Grimshaw 'Silvery Moonlight'

John Atkinson Grimshaw was born in Leeds in 1836 and was famous for his paintings of urban, moonlit nocturnal scenes, which he painted from the late 1860s onwards. Inspired by photography which flourished in the Victorian era, he found a passion for realism and would use a camera obscura to project scenes onto canvas. This made for extremely realistic urban scenes. Coupled with Grimshaw’s virtuoso handling of colour, lighting, and shadows for which his friend James McNeill Whistler’s commended, his urban pictures boast gritty and stunning emotion and strong narratives.

An impressive example of the work of Richard Ansdell (1815-1885), Going to the Lodge – Scotch Shootings, will be offered with an estimate of £40,000-60,000. Richard Ansdell RA was born in Liverpool, the son of a dock worker, but became one of the most prominent painters of sporting and genre scenes in Victorian Britain. It is rumoured that despite Ansdell’s illustrious clientele, he never quite attained royal patronage like fellow animal painter Landseer because after Queen Victoria asked Ansdell to paint her favourite dogs, he stubbornly refused, demanding that the dogs be brought to his studio, rather than him going the Royal Palaces. This charming picture was painted at a time when Richard Ansdell was embarking on a life-long love affair with the Scottish Highlands. For four months every year he would visit the Highlands to stay with family and friends in the lodge he built, mixing with the local people, and sensitively recording their daily lives with a backdrop of the dramatic Scottish landscape.

Richard Ansdell 'Going to the Lodge – Scotch Shootings'

On the same theme is ‘Highland Gamekeeper’ by John Frederick Herring Snr. (1795-1865), estimated at £30,000-50,000. John Frederick Herring Snr. was a celebrated sporting and animal painter in Victorian England. Prior to devoting his life to painting, he was a night coachman and painted insignia for coaches and inn signs. Herring first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1818. For an animal painter this was an incredible honour since sporting and animal pictures were not deemed “high art”.

A still life representing the opulence of the Dutch Golden Age by the Studio of Davidzoon de Heem (1606-1683/4) will be sold with an estimate of £15,000-20,000. Having previously been attributed to a number of different artists, a recent investigation of the painting by Dr Fred G. Meijer, the leading scholar on de Heem, deemed this work most likely painting in de Heem’s studio circa 1645-8, within proximity and influence of de Heem himself. Jan Davidz. De Heem was born in Utrecht and remains one of the greatest Dutch still-life painters of the 17th century.

De Heem still life

The sale will also offer a strong selection of Sporting Art, with notable lots including A Study of two Setters at rest after a day in the field and Spaniel and Grouse amongst the Heather, both by William Woodhouse (1857-1939), with respective estimates of £3,000-5,000 and £5,000-7,000. Paintings from the Contents of Ballachrink, Isle of Man, from the Estate of Nancy Sutton will also be included in the sale (the rest of the collection being sold in the Autumn Fine Sale on the same day), with highlights such as Forfeits by George Bernard O’Neill (1828-1917) on offer with an estimate of £6,000-9,000.