Tuesday 27 February 2024

Lot 125

American School, late 19th century-  A naval action during the American Civil War, with a paddle...

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Lot 125

American School, 
late 19th century- 
A naval action during the American Civil War, with a paddle...

Price Realised: £6,560

Estimate: £5,000 - £7,000

Price realised is hammer price plus fees (31.2% Buyers Premium inclusive of VAT).

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Lot 125


American School, 
late 19th century- 

A naval action during the American Civil War, with a paddle steamer, possibly the SS Pevensey, having suffered an explosion, followed by a three-masted sailing vessel and three small tenders flying Unionist flags, and with Unionist cavalry troops approaching on the shore; 

pencil, pen, black ink, watercolour and bodycolour on paper, 50.4 x 72 cm. 

Private Collection, UK. 

The present work illustrates a scene from the American Civil War (1861-1865), depicting the destruction of a paddle steamer, of the type that the Confederate forces typically used to run the Union Blockade. The watercolour is a rare and dramatic depiction of a vessel mid-explosion, with components of the ship being hurled into the sky by the sheer force of the blast. 
It has been suggested that the scene represented is the 1864 explosion of the 'iron steamer' SS Pevensey, which was run aground at Pine Knoll Shores, North Carolina, by the Union supply ship New Berne. It is worth noting that the New Berne was rigged as a brigantine, and not a three-master as shown in the present picture, but that may simply be an oversight on the part of the artist who was likely working from second-hand accounts of the conflict and not familiar with the specific details of the ships involved. 
While the picture serves as a remarkable historical record of the conflict, the unidentified artist does also demonstrate considerable confidence and skill in the handling of the visual components of the scene, crisply rendering the architecture of the ships and taking special care with the movement of the waves and the dynamic figures of the cavalrymen approaching on land. These elements are reminiscent of works by other artists and watercolourists working in America during the Civil War, particularly those of Xanthus Russell Smith (1839-1929) and Robert Fulton Weir (1838-1927). 
We are most grateful to Dr. Pieter van der Merwe for his advice on the possible historical context of the scene.

Buyer's Premium

The buyer shall pay the hammer price together with a premium thereon of 26% up to £20,000 (31.2% inclusive of VAT), 25% from £20,001 - £500,000 (30% inclusive of VAT), 20% from £500,001 thereafter (24% inclusive of VAT). The premium price is subject to VAT at the standard rate.

VAT is not charged on the hammer price unless it is stated that there is 'VAT applicable on the hammer price at the end of the description. Buyer's premium is subject to VAT.

Qualifying living artists and the descendants of artists deceased within the last 70 years are entitled to receive a re-sale royalty each time their work is bought through an auction house or art market professional.

It applies to lots with hammer value over £1,000 as follows:
0 to £50,000 - 4%
£50,000.01 to £200,000 - 3%
£200,000.01 to £350,000 - 1%
£350,000.01 to £500,000 - 0.5%
Exceeding £500,000 - 0.25%
ARR is capped at £12,500

Please note ARR is calculated in euros. Auctioneers will apply current exchange rates.

Export of goods

Buyers intending to export goods should ascertain whether an export licence is required before bidding. Export licences are issued by Arts Council England and application forms can be obtained from its Export Licensing Unit. Details can be found on the ACE website www.artscouncil.org.uk or by phoning ACE on 020 7973 5188. The need for import licences varies from country to country and you should acquaint yourself with all relevant local requirements and provisions before bidding. The refusal of any such licences shall not permit the cancelling of any sale nor allow any delay in making full payment for the lot.

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