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Lost David Cox Painting Fetches Over 200 Times Its Estimate At Auction

Antique artwork valued at £80 sells for £18,000 after being discovered during routine valuation

An antique painting valued at just £80 ($101) has sold for £18,000 ($22,789) at auction after turning out to be the ‘lost’ work of a renowned 19th century artist. The artwork by English painter David Cox was discovered during a routine valuation after its owner decided to downsize and move house.


Auctioneers were left stunned to find one of the artifacts inherited from the vendor’s mother was the work of one of England’s “greatest landscape painters.” The signed watercolor, called Lancaster Sands, was given a modest estimate of between £80-£100 by Hansons Auctioneers.

But it smashed its guide price to fetch £14,000 when it went under the hammer and attracted worldwide interest on Jan. 23.


The total paid by a private UK bidder, with buyer’s premium, was £18,368 – more than 200 times its estimate.

The seller, a 75-year retiree from Radcliffe on Trent, Notts., said: “I inherited a lot of artifacts from my mother 27 years ago and as we are downsizing we thought it sensible to meet Charles Hanson for professional advice as his company offers a very good service. “I was delighted and surprised by the auction result, though I knew David Cox was a well known artist.”

Auctioneer Adrian Kinton with the David Cox watercolor. 


Charles Hanson, owner of Hansons, said: “Our client brought the painting to show me at one of the regular valuation events I host at Memory Lane Antiques in Southwell.

“It went to auction with a modest guide of £80-£100 and sparked huge interest. We were flooded with requests for condition reports ahead of the sale.


“Because it had been in a private collection for so long it was, in effect, a lost David Cox painting. “He is considered one of the greatest English landscape painters and a major figure of the Golden age of English watercolor. “The subject matter, Lancaster Sands, also helped it excel together with its Agnews Gallery label.


“Agnews is a top London gallery, which indicates the painting’s importance.” Birmingham-born Cox (1783-1859) was one of the most important members of the Birmingham School of landscape artists, came from humble beginnings.

His father was a blacksmith and his mother a farmer’s daughter.


Cox was expected to follow his father into the metal trade but his lack of physical strength led his family to seek opportunities to develop his interest in art.

Though best known for watercolors, he painted more than 300 works in oil towards the end of his career, now considered one of the greatest but least recognized achievements of any British painter.


Produced in association with SWNS Talker

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