Blue Seascape auctioned today / Thoughts on attribution

Annie’s Blue Seascape was sold by auction today at Mallams, Oxford.

Image: Mallams.

The total number of paintings by or attributed to Annie for which I have located images is now one-hundred-and-twenty-seven, although eleven of these are tiny black-and-white images blown up from photographs of the 1923 exhibition (plus two which are visibile through a doorway but assumed not to be part of the Annie’s exhibition).

Five are ‘attributed’ – A woman amongst foliage, Maternité, On a Terrace, Portrait of a lady wearing a fur-trimmed garment and The Bluebell Wood. I generally follow auction house determinations for such matters, although if one was to be scientifically scrupulous, many more should really be ‘attributed’ as there is often no provenance or other proof of authorship given. Portrait of a Boy is one such example.

One recalls an article in The Independent (23 Oct 2011) commenting that ‘a reasonable estimate’ is that twenty percent of paintings in major galleries might be either misattributed or ‘fake.’ In centuries past when art was a profession rather than a matter of personal expression, copying the works of recognised masters was part of apprenticeship and the masters themselves may only have painted parts of some works, leaving apprentices to complete other parts. Artists often shared lodgings and associated with other artists, and I imagine would happily be tempted to imitate one another’s techniques and styles at times.

I’m not sure the twenty percent figure is correct, but a search of the internet quickly finds some startling examples of sometimes whole collections being found to be suspect or definitely fake. I might, come a rainy day, have a closer look at the evidence base for the works listed on this web site as being by Annie. Having closely studied many of her works (thirty-one in public galleries and two out-of-frame in private collections, as well as close inspection of auction house pieces), I like to think I can recognise her hand, but then I’m sure the curators of major collections would say the same.

Jonathan Russell

One thought on “Blue Seascape auctioned today / Thoughts on attribution

  1. Caroline

    Hi Jonathan I bought Blue Seascape and can report it is same canvas, clouds and colours as the Snape one I own. Hope you are well


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