Archibald Thorburn's painting, The Covey at Daybreak could sell for $236,000

Bonhams are pleased to announce that a beautiful Archibald Thorburn painting entitled 'The Covey at Daybreak' will be a highlight of the 19th Century Paintings auction early next year in London.

This follows on from the success of the last 19th Century Paintings auction in April, where seven Thorburn paintings sold for a total of £339,600 and two works achieved the highest prices recorded for Thorburn ptarmigan works (£72,000 and £62,400).

Both of these works smashed their pre-sale estimates of £15,000-20,000.

Of course this news comes just as we are reminded just how valuable artistic books of birds can be as John James Audubon's Birds of America has brought a staggering $11.5m at Sotheby's.

The painting now offered on the market is exceptionally stunning and unusually large for Thorburn, measuring 68 x 114cm. In excellent condition it has been consigned from a private collection in East Anglia, and appears on the market for the first time since it was purchased from the Thorburn Museum sale in 1993.

Thorburn (1860-1935) was a Scottish artist with a life-long love of birds and was Vice-President of the RSPB. He was highly skilled at producing accurate renderings of British wildlife, with the many species of bird forming a staple subject. His works are proving to be a great investment.

John Southern writing on The Covey at Daybreak in Thorburn's Birds and Mammals describes the scene:

"Three drops of dew lying uneasily upon the blackberry leaves confirm the break of day. A partridge covey awakens upon the autumnal stubble, the old cock bird rasping out his grating greeting to the sunrise far beyond the hill side brow.

"Meanwhile, another covey glides in from a neighbouring field upon which they have spent the autumnal night. In the valley below a farmstead nestles snugly within its patchworked pastures, the harvest safely gathered in amid the barnyard ricks."

Ptarmigan, partridge, grouse and pheasant were often painted from life during Thorburn's countless jaunts through the countryside and throughout his long career. He gained a strong reputation among the great sportsmen of the day, including the Edward VI and George V, for his accuracy and attention to detail with regard to the form, colouring and the plumage of the various game birds.

Thorburn The Covey at Daybreak
Thorburn's The Covey at Daybreak
(Click to enlarge)

Charles O'Brien, Head of 19th Century Pictures at Bonhams comments,

"We are very excited about handling such a large and impressive painting. Following on from the success of the Thorburns in our April sale, I am confident that this powerful work will prove popular with collectors - it is a remarkable painting which perfectly illustrates the artist's command of both medium and subject."

The painting is estimated to fetch £100,000-150,000 (up to $236,000) in the sale which takes place in London on January 27 2011.


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