$48,000 King Lear sketch upstages Millais's sleepwalker at council auction


A George Romney sketch of King Lear took experienced collectors by surprise at yesterday's (July 13) Bonhams 19th Century Paintings sale.

The 18th or early 19th century pencil work sold for £30,000, against a pre-sale estimate of £4,000.

The sale could be more evidence of a growing appreciation among collectors and high-net worth individuals for the English painter, more commonly known for his portraits. Previously, Romney's depiction of Mrs Anne Carwardine sold for £408,800 at a Sotheby's auction in 2003.

King Lear, Edgar and the fool was one of 10 pieces brought to the auction by Bolton Council, which is looking to fund a new storage facility for its art by selling off some of its more valuable pieces.

As expected, the biggest seller among the council's lots was George Everett Millais's The Somnambulist, which achieved £74,400, comfortably beating its low end estimate of £70,000.

‘Glib and oily art’? Not this £30,000 pencil sketch of King Lear

The council's 10 pieces sold for a combined £170,000, and also included Edward Burne-Jones's A Study of Danae and the Brazen Tower, which tripled its estimate with a strong £15,600 showing.

A council spokesman told local paper the Bolton News: "It's been an eventful sale, with some surprises and some disappointments, but overall we are pleased with the outcome.

"The next sale is in August and we will be monitoring the progress of all the sales with interest."

For those looking to buy fine works of art without the uncertainty of bidding at auction, many unusual and exciting pieces can be found by investigating the private markets.


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