Auction News

Sporting Life – Sotheby’s, Olympia annual Sporting Sale

On alfredmunningsWednesday, November 3, 2004 Sotheby’s, Olympia will be holding its popular annual Sporting sale. Over 120 works of art, depicting scenes of hunting, fishing, racing, shooting and general sporting life, will be presented for sale. These will include watercolours, drawings and oil paintings by 18th, 19th and 20th century artists, such as Sir Alfred Munnings, John Frederick Herring Snr. and Archibald Thorburn.

Highlighting the sale will be a small but interesting collection of pieces, never before offered for sale, from the Estate of Sir John Wodehouse, 4th Earl of Kimberley and godson of novelist P.G. Wodehouse. Sir John Wodehouse was born on May 12, 1924 and died in 2002, having achieved a measure of fame as the most-married man in the peerage! Most of the pieces in the collection are, however, related to his father, John Wodehouse, 3rd Earl of Kimberley.

Born on November 11, 1883 and known to his friends as Jack, the 3rd Earl of Kimberley was a renowned and highly regarded polo player. His skill and passion for the sport lead him to be a member of the England International Polo Team that was beaten by the United States in 1921 at Hurlingham. Away from the polo field, he worked as an MP and as Secretary of State for the Colonies. He died in 1941 whilst serving in the air force.

Sir John Wodehouse’s interesting collection includes, among other pieces, photographs of his father in action on various polo ponies, a stunning portrait of his father by Sir Oswald Hornsby Joseph Birley and a polo trophy from Hurlingham. There are also two exquisite watercolours by the eminent Sir Alfred Munnings. Many regard Sir Alfred Munnings as the best horse artist of the modern era. His painting of John Wodehouse, 3rd Earl of Kimberley, on a polo pony and dated 1909, is estimated to fetch £20,000-£30,000 (front page image) while his painting of Edward Wodehouse (John Wodehouse’s younger brother) is estimated to fetch £15,000-£20,000.

sporthorseAlso featured in the sale is a striking oil on canvas by John Frederick Herring Snr., one of the most acclaimed horse artists of the early 19th century. His painting entitled ‘Mr Grantwicke’s Bay
Racehorse The Merry Monarch By Slane Out Of Margravine in A Loosebox’ (right), is of the racehorse Merry Monarch who was foaled in 1842, bred by G. W. Gratwicke and trained by John Forth. Merry Monarch won the Derby by a length in 1845, beating strong competition. He was also one of the first horses to be transported to race meetings using an early style horsebox. G. W. Gratwicke invented the forerunner of the horsebox, allowing his horses to travel from meeting to meeting in relative luxury
while other horses had to walk or take an uncomfortable train. The painting is estimated to fetch £40,000-£60,000.

sportsnipeA further highlight in the sale is a small but wonderful collection of Archibald Thorburn watercolours. The ten paintings, from a private collection in Germany, are estimated to fetch in excess of £50,000. ‘Snipe’, illustrated left, is estimated at £10,000-£15, 000, whilst ‘The Frozen Fen – Mallard and Pintail’ is estimated at £6,000-£8,000. Born near Edinburgh in 1860, Archibald Thorburn was acknowledged
as one of the greatest painters of birdlife of his time.

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