Exotic touch to anniversary auction with Australian picture at Surrey sale

'A view of Cowes on Phillip Island' by Haughton Forrest – £7800 at Ewbank’s.

An early coastal scene of Australia sold for more than five times its top estimate to an online buyer from New South Wales at Ewbank’s anniversary sale.

Extracted from Antiques Trade Gazette | Roland Arkell

Haughton Forrest’s (1826- 1925) evocative oil Cowes, Schooner and other ships in a Bay against a mountainous landscape took £7800 (plus 25% buyer’s premium) against hopes of £1000-1500 on March 19.

Brazil to Tasmania

Forrest, the son of an equerry to Queen Victoria, left England with his family in 1875, initially to try his hand running a plantation in Brazil, but the following year moved to Tasmania where he became a Crown official.

In 1881 he gave up all his official posts to devote his time to painting the local landscape: two of his canvases (of Russell Falls and Mount Wellington) were chosen for the first set of pictorial stamps issued in 1899 by the six colonies of pre- Federation Australia.

Cowes, the subject of this 17in x 2ft 6in (44cm x 75cm) picture, is on Phillip Island off the coast of southern Australia. It is signed H Forrest, Cowes and indistinctly dated.

The three-day, 1660-lot auction in Surrey from March 18-20 – marking the firm’s 30th year in business – raised close to £600,000.

Although the number of visitors to the Woking saleroom was restricted in the early days of social distancing, bidders from all over the world helped towards a selling rate of 80%.

Chris Ewbank was relieved. “I realise it is a case of ‘early days’ and we need to be careful not to read too much into this, but the results across what is a major sale for us are very encouraging indeed. I’m delighted because we employ 35 people who have worked very hard to make this a success.”

All forthcoming Ewbank’s sales will be held online.