Sold on a Pre-Raphaelite landscape, a Chelsea botanical dish and a William and Mary cabinet

From the thousands of lots that appear at auctions every week on, here we focus on three fine objects sold in late October


‘Blea Tarn and the Langdale Pike’ by William James Blacklock – £33,000 at Thomson Roddick.

A landscape by William James Blacklock 

Although he made his reputation in London among the Pre-Raphaelites, the Victorian landscape painter William James Blacklock (1816-1858) is intimately connected with the scenery of Cumbria and the Scottish Borders.

He was raised in the small village of Cumwhitton – just east of Carlisle where he attended the local Academy of Art – and returned there as his health and eyesight deteriorated in 1850. The Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery in Carlisle holds the largest collection of his work.

This 13 x 22in (33 x 56cm) oil, Blea Tarn and the Langdale Pike, is signed and dated 1852 – the year it was shown at the Royal Academy.

Blacklock’s technique included using luminous glazes over a white ground – one studied closely by both his friend and admirer William Bell Scott (1811-90) and Dante Gabriel Rossetti. However, rather than strictly following nature, in this painting some of the geographical reality is lost at the expense of composition.

Blacklock's finished oils, bought in the early 1850s by the Tyneside industrialists and art collectors who patronised the Pre-Raphaelites, are rare.

This example, that had been relined, came for sale at Carlisle firm Thomson Roddick on October 28. Offered on behalf of a descendant (there were 23 lots of Blacklock interest in the sale), it was pitched at £8000-12,000 but sold via for £33,000.

A Chelsea Red Anchor period botanical dish

This Chelsea dish moulded as a vine leaf and painted with polychrome fruit is a textbook production from the Red Anchor period c.1755-58.

Subjects such as this are sometimes referred to as ‘Hans Sloane’ Chelsea – a reference to an advertisement that appeared in Faulkner's Dublin Journal of July 1-4, 1758, announcing ‘... table plates, soup plates and desart [sic] plates enamelled from Sir Hans Sloan's plants’ – apparently one of the first identifiable references to the Chelsea factory's popular botanical wares.

Sir Hans Sloane (1660-1753), Physician to Queen Anne, was a great botanist and collector of rare plants at 1712 the Chelsea Physic Garden. Most botanical renderings on these Chelsea pieces were taken from illustrations in Philip Miller's Gardener's Dictionary and Figures of Plants depicting specimens from the Physic Garden.

‘Hans Sloane’ Chelsea plates appear on the market with some frequency but dishes such as this are a rarer find. Estimated to bring £80-120 at Trevanion & Dean in Whitchurch, Shropshire on October 24, it sold via at £7000. The price reflected its overall good condition, save a small rim chip.

A William and Mary lacquered cabinet 

This William and Mary period lacquered cabinet on a carved and silvered stand was acquired at the 2001 BADA Fair in London.

It reappeared on the market at Stowmarket auctioneers Bishop & Miller on October 15 with an estimate of £4000-6000 but did rather better selling via at £23,000.


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