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British Impressionist painter’s art works to be auctioned for the first time

Posted On: 21 Nov 2021 by Elizabeth Chilcott

An important collection of privately owned works of art from West Country impressionist painter F Stuart Richardson (1855 – 1934) will go under the hammer for the first time at Chilcotts Auctioneers’ Fine Art Sale on March 7.

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The paintings, kept for many years in an attic at Carradale Farm in Whimple, East Devon before being removed to a family home in Tintagel, are being sold by the artist’s descendants.

Auctioneer Duncan Chilcott said: “We’re delighted to be handling the sale of the Frederick Stuart Richardson Collection.

“What is particularly exciting is that as well as finished works, the collection includes Richardson’s preparatory studies, meaning we can see and understand his workings. Additionally, being almost straight out of the artist’s studio and having been stacked away since his death in 1934, the colours are not at all faded - they really are ‘fresh to market’.”

Originally from Clifton in Bristol, Richardson was the son of a clergyman who was keen for him to become a civil engineer. However, after coming into an inheritance in 1877 he decided instead to pursue his passion of painting, moving to Paris to study at the studio of Carolus-Duran in Paris.

“It was here that he met American artist John Singer Sargent, whose work - and that of the burgeoning Impressionist Movement - clearly influenced Richardson’s emerging style,” Duncan explained.

“Painting in a loose and lively style, he favoured the practice of working ‘en plein air’ with his pictures conveying the spirit of the people and places that they depict.”

On his return to England, Richardson’s talent was widely recognised. He exhibited at The Royal Academy; he was elected to the Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolour in 1893, the Institute of Painters in Watercolour in 1897, the Royal Institute of Oil Painters in 1901 and in 1920, the Royal West of England Academy.

During visits to Yorkshire he became a member of the Staithes Group of British Impressionists and developed what was to become a lifelong friendship with Laura and Harold Knight. “Dame Laura Knight was actually the first woman to be elected a Royal Academician,” said Duncan. “We’re thrilled that six of her pictures are also in the auction, including a trademark caricature that she drew for Richardson.”

The F Stuart Richardson Collection includes 19 framed finished works in oil and watercolour, plus two folios of unframed sketches; 9 oils on board and a further 21 in watercolour and pencil. They portray Whitby and the Yorkshire Moors, places beloved of the Staithes group, as well as a range of landscapes and scenes from around the UK including Bristol, Malvern and Shaldon. Having travelled widely in Europe, this collection also offers several evocative watercolours of Shrimpers and women foraging on the dunes in Katwijk, Holland.

Richardson is perhaps a less appreciated artist than some of his British Impressionist contemporaries and his paintings, which would be an asset for any home period or contemporary, are of an affordable nature. Estimates for the oils are between £400 and £600, with watercolours from £150 to £250.

Post-script: The collection was sold for just over £10,000 plus 21% Buyers Premium in March 2020, just before the first lockdown.