Sold on thesaleroom: Two contrasting pictures – a still life and a boxing print04 June 2021 Two pictures sold recently to bidders using this website had rather contrasting subjects.
Ernest Townsend still life
The Derby artist Ernest Townsend (1880-1944) is best known as a very competent portraitist – he painted Winston Churchill as First Lord of the Admiralty in 1915 – but his oeuvre also includes small still life studies of flowers in the manner of the French painter Henri Fantin-Latour. Several are among the collection of Townsend works held by Derby Art Gallery.
Back in January, Mallams in Abingdon sold a Townsend canvas titled Marsh Marigolds for £3400 – a surprise sum that was thought to be a record for the artist. However, the result was no flash in the pan. Duke’s sale of the contents of Wormington Grange on May 12 included this 40 x 49cm oil of chrysanthemum blooms in a glass vase on a white cloth. It was estimated modestly at £200-300 but sold to a bidder using thesaleroom.com at £4000.
Bare knuckle boxing print
The famous bare knuckle bout between the English champion boxer Thomas Cribb and African-American Tom Molineaux took place before a crowd of 15,000 at Thisselton Gap, Rutland on September 28, 1811.
Molineaux had fought Cribb before, at Sheninghton Hollow, in Oxfordshire on December 3, 1810, when he was defeated in 35 rounds in a disputed decision. This re-match lasted ‘just’ 19 minutes after Cribb broke his opponent's jaw in the ninth round and knocked him out in the 11th.
The great caricaturist Thomas Rowlandson recorded the fight as part of his celebrated Rural Sports series published by Thomas Tegg in October 1811. Titling the scene Rural Sports A Milling Match, his etching includes both the two pugilists and their entourages.
Cribb’s ‘second’ was John Gully and his bottle-holder Joe Ward while Molineaux's second was Bill ‘The Black Terror’ Richmond (also American-American by birth and once enslaved) and his bottleman Bill Gibbon. Note also the two pickpockets in the foreground – one male and one female – helping themselves from the distracted spectators.
Appealing to a range of collectors, this is perhaps the most desirable of the Rural Sports prints. This framed and glazed copy with contemporary hand colouring was offered by Dominic Winter in South Cerney on May 13 where, estimated at £200-300, it took £3200 from a bidder using thesaleroom.com.