If you’ve ever come to the auction house the week after the auction then you’ve witnessed the mad house around here, first hand. It’s a whirlwind of activity that involves taking in new consignments and assisting buyers picking up their treasures that they’ve won at auction. It’s during that week that there’s hardly time to catch your breath. Later, when things settle a bit, we have a better opportunity to sift through the collections and see what our consignors have brought in for us to auction. Typically, we’ll make a note to research particular things that have caught our eye or that appears to be something unique and/or special. Doing research on these items is simply part of our gig, doing our due diligence…afterall, we want to sell things for the most money possible and knowing the value of things helps us tremendously and prohibits underselling items due to ignorance of what they are. Even with this in mind, everyone once in a while, something slips through the door and gets past us, which brings us to today. This month, while working on the website, I noticed this sweet little painting of a girl in a field of poppies. We just knew it was a sweet little French impressionist painting. Condition wise it suffers, but even with the 2 cracks in the board it’s painted on and the spots of cracklature in the paint, the beauty it possesses still stands out. Immediately I liked everything about it and had intended to look at it in greater depth. Well as it happens, the month got busy as it progressed and my intention was lost to the typical work load. Today I received an email from France inquiring about this same little painting. It’s a peaceful painting as you can see in the posted image–a timid 10″ x 14″ with a 1″ simple wooden frame hosting it. It was nice but when one considers how often a sleeper actually comes through the mill, well, let’s just say something can be a nice piece without being a great piece (if that makes sense to you). Inasmuch that’s where we had it compartmentalized, a nice little piece. Afterall, if it were a valuable piece, surely the consignor who is a knowledgeable lady would’ve brought it to our attention. Well our attempt to respond to the email questions brought it back to front and center for us. Requests to see the backside of the piece required that we dismantle this little painting, dislodging it from what has apparently been its home for many years. We discovered en verso a torn label, some misplaced paint spillage and and another painting (the artist obviously recycled the surface she was using). After a while of studying the label, Grant blurted out “Edwards–it looks like it says Mia Edwards!” the search was on, we had a GREAT clue, better than we could ask for. Well as it turns out we found a listing for her, according to Graves, The Royal Academy of Arts , 1905–6 , :
BROWN , MIA ARNESBY ( 1867 – 1931 ), artist . Born in Cwmbran, Mon. , daughter of Rev. Charles Smallwood Edwards and grand-daughter of Rev. Loderwick Edwards , vicar of Rhymney . She studied under Sir Hubert von Herkomer . She showed five pictures in the Royal Academy under her maiden name, Edwards . In 1913 in an exhibition of contemporary Welsh artists, two of her pictures drew attention — ‘ Mary reading ’ and ‘ The Garden Boy ’, the latter is now in the National Museum of Wales .
She married, 1896 , Sir John Arnesby Brown , R.A. , artist . She died in 1931 , aged 64.
I also found where she was listed in an old Davenport Art Reference Guide as having sold a painting for $13,800, although minimally–2 times the size. Grant’s research uncovered documentation stating that Sotheby’s London and Bonhams had sold some of her work before as well, for prices up to $11,363.USD. Her piece entitled “Shirley Poppies” was also included in an exhibit by The Royal Academy of Arts, London, in 1906. There is documentation of another painting she produced with the word poppies in the title, “Little Girl Among Poppies”. The label en verso of this painting is torn but we can make out either a ‘y’ or ‘g’, followed by ‘Popp’, and below that her name and the region it was painting in…in Wales–and that’s where the label tears.
Talk about a sleeper! Now who knows what it will really sell for at auction but regardless, I’m still excited and can’t wait to see what the international market does with this!!! The work of a museum quality artist, right here at the auction! Lot 136, Friday July 24th!!