Auction Sees Bidding War Over Two Oval Portraits


The Old Master, British & European Paintings auction started with several collections of over 70 portrait miniatures, of which only three failed to sell during the recent Bellmans auction. They sold to both trade and private collectors. (Read “It’s Autumn Auction Season at Bellmans.”)

More from the organizers:

Top lot was rather unsurprisingly the portrait miniature of General Powney but John Smart (British, 1741-1811) which sold above low estimate for £3,500 (£4,424), while another one by the same artist of Mrs. Shippey of Sloane Street, Knightsbridge from 1784 sold for three times its low estimate at £3,000 (£3,792). A stunning portrait of a young Philip Button Esq. of Gifford, Essex by William Wood (British, 1769-1810) attracted much attention and sold online for £3,200 (£4,044) against an estimate of£1,500 – £2,500.

The real bidding war, however, was fought over two oval portraits of Colonel Arent DePeyster (1736-1822) and his wife Rebecca DePeyster (nee Blair, died 1827).

Portraits of Colonel Arent DePeyster and Rebecca DePeyster
Portraits of Colonel Arent DePeyster and Rebecca DePeyster

The portraits had been found by Bellmans in a cupboard in a house clearance in South London and catalogued as late 18th/early 19th Century English School with an estimate of £150 – £250. While DePeyster, the American-born British colonial military officer best known for his term as commandant of the British-controlled Fort Michilimackinac and Fort Detroit during the American Revolution, has been largely forgotten in the UK, he clearly still has his place in the US. Strong bidding between two US bidders meant that the relatively conservative commission bids were soon out and the bidding continued online and on the phone, the online bidder finally succeeded when the hammer came down at £38,000 (£48,032).

Just over a month short of the 200th anniversary of Arent DePeyster’s death, Bellmans is thrilled to hear that the portraits will return to the US, where following the capture of Lieutenant-Governor General Henry Hamilton, DePeyster is often credited as being the military leader of the British and Native American forces in the Western American and Canadian frontiers. The DePeysters actually moved to Dumfries after he retired in 1794, but when the United Kingdom was threatened by Napoleon, he became actively involved with the militia again, which included the prominent Scottish poet Robert Burns, who dedicated his poem on “Life” to him.

The second highest lot was part of the Shakenhurst Hall Collection – an impressive landscape with figures on horseback by a lake that has to be assumed to be by a follower of Richard Wilson. As such it was estimated at £800 – £1,200 and sold for £9,500 (£12,008).

Landscape painting from the Shakenhurst Hall Collection
Landscape painting from the Shakenhurst Hall Collection

Julian Dineen, head of pictures at Bellmans, said: “We were delighted with the sale which included some outstanding results, with competitive bidding coming from across the UK, Europe, and further afield. We look forward to following this up with what is sure to be a fantastic Modern British and 20th Century Art Sale on 15th November.”

90% of the auction sold with most lots achieving prices above expectations. With £225,000 it is one of the best totals of a Bellmans picture auction in recent years.

> Visit to learn about more opportunities for artists and art collectors, including retreats, international art trips, art conventions, and more.

> Sign up to receive Fine Art Today, our free weekly e-newsletter

> Subscribe to Fine Art Connoisseur magazine, so you never miss an issue


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here