Sold on thesaleroom: Victorian painting of steam ships on the Thames

Guided at £200-400, this late Victorian oil on canvas depicting steam ships on the Thames near Wapping drew strong demand at Ramsay Cornish’s recent Homes & Interiors Auction in Edinburgh.

Edward Fletcher painting

Steam ships on the Thames near Wapping by Edward Henry Eugene Fletcher – £4500 at Ramsay Cornish.

After a protracted bidding battle, it was knocked down at £4500 to a buyer using

Inscribed to the back and signed E Fletcher, it is thought to be the work of the London marine painter Edward Henry Eugene Fletcher (1857-1945).

Relatively little is known about his artistic life. The son of a Bengal boat pilot whose job was guiding shipping along the Hooghly River, he had first joined the Army Hospital Corp in Nova Scotia but had returned to London and to painting when invalided out in 1871. It appears he did not exhibit and instead made a living selling his pictures through dealers and galleries, sometimes using the pseudonym John Hayes for contractual reasons.

Today his work appears for sale with some regularity and is admired in particular for the subject matter (he almost exclusively painted views of the river Thames, its industry and its shipping) as well as his level of detail. The best of his works are deemed to compare favourably to those of William Wyllie.

The 2ft 6in x 4ft 2in (76cm x 1.27m) oil on canvas was one of four works by the artist at the Ramsay Cornish auction on April 16. Together they raised a combined £7050.

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