22 July 2024

‘Lady in the blue dress’ and Wainwright paintings to be sold on Wednesday

Nine paintings by Birmingham artist William John Wainwright and a mysterious ‘Lady in blue dress’ portrait linked to noted British biographer Michael Holroyd will be going under the hammer in Shrewsbury on Wednesday.


The paintings are included in Halls Fine Art’s 612-lot pictures, ceramics, collectables and modern design auction at the Battlefield saleroom where the lots will be open for viewing on Monday and Tuesday from 10am to 4pm.


The company’s paintings specialist, Abigail Molenaar believes her detective work may have discovered the missing piece of a jigsaw for Holroyd who wrote about a missing portrait by Robin Goodwin of the ‘Lady in blue dress’ in his 2004 book, ‘Mosaic’.


The ‘Lady in blue dress’ was Agnes May Beaumont-Thomas, mistress of the author’s late grandfather, Fraser Holroyd, who caused a scandal when he left his family for her in 1926. The portrait was listed in Agnes May’s will and she is believed to have been the sitter.


Holroyd discovered that there are two paintings of Agnes May in existence, but he managed to locate only one of them. “Somewhere, perhaps, hanging in someone’s home or in a gallery, an oil painting ‘half-length Portrait of a Lady in blue dress’, still exists,” he wrote.


The portrait is valued at up to £400 and the author has been informed about by Halls Fine Art. “I am really excited to see how the ‘Lady in the blue dress’ does at auction because she’s such a mysterious and intriguing figure,” said Abigail.


The nine paintings by Wainwright (1855-1931) include a 1915 portrait of George Muscott (1835-1932) on his 80th birthday, which is valued at up to £600. Muscott rose from working as a tanner to take over William Madeley’s well established tanning business at Balsall Heath, Birmingham, which became George Muscott & Sons.


The Muscott family is credited with establishing the first fire brigade in Acocks Green following a large fire at their buildings on Speedwell Road in 1890.


The paintings section of the auction includes something to suit all tastes, from modern art abstracts by the likes of Bernard Farmer (1919-2002) and wildlife paintings by Terence Lambert and Neil Cox and to sports and equestrian works.


The sports paintings include two works by contemporary artist Tony Smith (1932-2018). One captures the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in 1989, showing Nigel Mansell’s Ferrari chasing Alain Prost’s McLaren around Woodcote Corner.


The second is of the Syraceuse Grand Prix in 1957, showing Peter Collins in a Lancia – Ferarri leading Sir Stirling Moss’ Vanwall. The paintings are valued at up to £800 and £600, respectively.


A view of Wyle Cop, Shrewsbury is captured in a watercolour by Yorkshire artist Noel Harry Leaver (1889-1951) whose works are always popular at Halls Fine Art. The painting is valued at up to £400.


From the same Cheshire private collection is signed print titled ‘Sheepdog’ by Sir Kyffin Williams (1918-2006), which valued at up to £500.


The auction also includes a collection of paintings, valued at around £4,000, from a deceased estate in Kidderminster and British School 19th century group of portrait miniatures of the Ratcliffe family of New Street, Wem, modestly valued at up to £120.


“This auction features a wide range of affordable pictures to suit all tastes,” said Abigail. “They should be of interest to people in their 30s and 40s who are trying to buy sustainable pictures that are affordable and a bit different to start an art collection.”