Devon paintings quadruple estimate at Fine Art Sale

Cheffins have sold an important collection of artworks depicting scenes of Devon at the firm’s Fine Art Sale on the 13th and 14th June.

The collection consisted of 20 pictures in total and sold for a total of £57,000 (hammer price), with many of the works set to return to Devon soil.

The paintings came from the collection of the late Martin Beaver, whose family originated from Whitchurch, Devon. The pictures were collected over a series of many years. Dating from the 18th century and 19th century, the paintings on offer included 17 watercolours and three oils from some of the most well-regarded Devon artists, including William Payne, Francis Towne, Nicholas Matthew Condy and John Nixon.  

Cheffins established an auction record for the artist William Payne, with ‘Penny Cross Church, Devon,’ a watercolour, selling for £6,500, against its estimate of £200 - £300. William Payne is a highly-regarded watercolour artist and etcher who invented the tint 'Payne’s Grey', and whose paintings feature views of Topsham, Stoke Church, Orestone and various other scenes near Plymouth. 

The highest price paid on the day was for Francis Towne’s ‘View of Fingle Bridge, Drewsteignton’ which sold for £8,500 over four times its lower estimate of £2,000. Francis Towne is currently in demand with his work now featuring in major global collections including the Tate, the Louvre, the Rijksmuseum and the British Museum. 

Another highlight from the collection was an oil painting from Nicholas Matthew Condy which dates back to 1834 and depicts a scene of shipping on the Tamar, near Plymouth. This sold for £3,600. Also on offer were two watercolour scenes by John Varley, which show views of Dawlish and Totnes and which sold for £3,000 and £2,400 apiece, well over their £200 - £300 estimates. Other Devon scenes include views of Totnes from the River Dart, views of Exeter and various coastal and countryside scenes from throughout the county.

Brett Tryner, Associate, Cheffins comments: “Buyers for these works were a mixture of trade, Devon-based collectors and museums. The West Country’s enduring appeal also meant that some of the pictures found new homes as far afield as Swansea and Yorkshire. The sale demonstrates that there is still significant demand for traditional watercolours despite rumblings in the market indicating otherwise. These pictures had all of the elements which the market wants; fresh to the saleroom; strong provenance and the good eye of their former owner and collector. These pictures were created in the golden age of British watercolours and Devon’s stunning scenery continues to attract artists from all over the country as much today as in the 18th century and we are pleased to see that many of these works will be returning to the county from which they originated.”  

 Auction: The Fine Art Sale | 13th & 14th June from 11am Location: Cheffins, Clifton House, 1-2 Clifton Road, Cambridge, UK, CB1 7EA.

For more information, contact the Fine Art team on 01223 213343.

For further media information, please contact Sophie Richardson, PR Manager, Cheffins, t: 01223 271 990.


Varley Dawlish



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