Mr. Darwell bid £30 for a small painting. The seller had placed it for auction without a reserve and the other bidders were happy to let the landscape sell for £30, it wasn’t worth £32 to them, the Canterbury auction house agreed the sale. There was mutual agreement throughout the room that the worth was £30. I certainly wouldn’t have placed another bid.
However Curtis Dowling, of new BBC TV series ‘Treasure Detectives’, revealed live on Breakfast News that the painting was created by John Constable, one of England’s best known artists from the Romanticism movement, and gave a value of £¼ million.
If you are familiar with any Constable it is likely to be ‘Dedham Vale’ (left) or ‘The Hay Wain’ (right).
The added history to the small piece massively escalated the price. The painting hasn’t improved, it looks no better but it’s suddenly become a treasure. I agree that it’s important to preserve the work of popular artists, though why somebody might want to pay such a large sum seems bizarre. It’s a big price just to show off to friends, museums and galleries might enjoy displaying it. People will be keen to stare at a painting they previously had no interest in.
I think it’s a shame that this piece could take the place of something arguably better for the sake of a small signature.