At Kempton Park last week I saw a fabulous water colour by Charles Whymper. The picture was small, of a family group in fine un-faded condition from the last quarter of the 19th century. It was not a typical subject matter but a delight. Twenty years ago this picture would have been selling for at least £1000 pounds. In today's market the dealer wanted £200 and would probably have taken less. This has been the face of Victorian art over the past 2 decades
Victorian painting start to lose popularity in the 1990's with the rise in the market of 20th century. British Art and a resurgence of contemporary painting. In my opinion this was a good thing to happen as both the markets have produced fresh vibrant and challenging art that fits perfectly with the current interiors and design trend.
Whilst there are many appalling watercolours and oils from the period some are timeless and even today of great value. I recently purchased three drawings by Sir David Wilkie RA, with some trepidation. The three drawings are studies for larger paintings and come from a collector for historical subject matter. Will these pictures stand the test of time or will they be consigned to the historical waste bin, which is called Victoriana? Time will tell. As yet I've been unable to identify any of the subject matters depicted in the pen drawings but I'm having fun checking them out!
Art is cyclical and I'm sure that in years to come Victorian painting will again be re-evaluated. However, I suspect (and hope) this will not be during my dealing career.
Anthony Mortimer Fine Art. 30 years experience as an art expert and curator.