A single-owner collection of fine portrait miniatures that once belonged to Richard Allen, the late fine art director at Halls in Shrewsbury, will be going under the hammer in October.
The 29 portrait miniatures, which was part of a larger collection, was formed over several decades and features the work of some of the most sought-after masters of the art form.
The 17th to 19th centuries are all represented but the collection predominantly concentrates on the period between 1780 – 1820, named by the collector and author, Daphne Foskett, as ‘The Heyday of Miniature Painting’.
The portrait miniature range from one of Charles I in court dress by Dutch artist John Faber (1650-1721) valued at £2,500 to a pair depicting George and Elizabeth Durance by John Downman (1750-1824) valued at £7,000.
The collection, which is valued at around £30,000, is being sold at Halls’ fine art, silver, jewellery, coins and medals auction on October 18.
James Forster, Halls’ pictures specialist, said the collection is the best he has ever sold. “We are privileged to be asked to sell these fine, of museum quality British portrait miniatures on behalf of Richard’s family, he added.
Mr Allen, who lived at Ditton Priors, near Bridgnorth, was a charismatic and respected figure in the auction world, developing his expertise and passion for portrait miniatures during a distinguished career.
He celebrated 25 years in the business while at Sotheby’s, 18 of which were invested in his role as a board director in addition to his work with the portrait miniatures department.
He returned to his native Shropshire in 1992, where he was offered directorship at Halls and went on to develop and expand the fine art department. He advised the collector, Charles Fleischmann III, whose extensive collection of portrait miniatures now resides in the Cincinnati Art Museum, which he helped to curate.
Shortly after standing down as fine art director at Halls, Mr Allen died in a motorcycle accident near his home.
Other works included in the picture section of the auction include ‘The Young Falconer’, a portrait by James Robert Granville Exley (1878-1967), valued at around £2,000.
The emancipation of women is the inspiration behind the portrait which was displayed in the Festival of Britain exhibition at Bradford City Gallery and is one of a collection of 10 works by Exley in the auction.
Leading 20th century British still life painter Cecil Kennedy (1905-’97) is also represented, with his work ‘Summer Flowers’ expected to fetch up to £6,000. Kennedy specialised in detailed oil paintings of flowers and often included a ladybug or a bumblebee in his works.
A watercolour topographical view of Balaclava Harbour during the Crimean War, in the manner of William Simpson, captures a military theme and demonstrates the problems that had to be overcome to supply the front line during the campaign. The painting is valued at around £300.