Ipswich: Edward Poynter’s painting set to break world auction record

IPSWICH: It is described as “one of the finest Victorian nude paintings ever produced” and it could have been yours for just �750 back in 1970.

Now 41 years later this picture by former Ipswich School student, Sir Edward Poynter, is up for sale again but this time it is expected to sell for nearer �500,000, and if it goes for more, it could easily set a new world auction record for a work by Poynter.

The 20ins by 14ins painting entitled Andromeda, was painted by Poynter in 1869 when he was in his early 30s. Now auctioneers Sotheby’s says it is “one of the finest Victorian nude paintings ever produced.”

They said: “Poynter is now regarded as perhaps the finest 19th century British painter of the nude. His ceaseless study of classical sculpture and of living naked models gave him an understanding of the nude, free from the coyness or salaciousness that his less talented contemporaries indulged in.”

Poynter, son of architect Ambrose Poynter, attended Ipswich School in 1850 and 1851 and from there he went on to become President of the Royal Academy, a position later occupied by Mendham-born Norwich-trained Dedham-based artist Sir Alfred Munnings.

Poynter is one of the most illustrious of all Old Ipswichians and others who attended Ipswich School were King Solomon’s Mines author, Sir Henry Rider Haggard, Punch magazine illustrator Charles Keene and artist Edward Ardizzone.

For many years Sir Edward Poynter’s painting, Andromeda, was owned by wealthy Lancashire cotton merchant, Charles Lees, and then by his widow Dame Sarah Lees, Lancashire’s first female councillor, and then, until her death in 1970, by their daughter Marjorie.

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When the painting came up for sale at Sotheby’s in London on November 18, 1970, it sold for just �750. At the sale on Tuesday, it is set to fetch between �300,000 and �500,000.

Andromeda – the subject of Poynter’s painting – was a princess from Greek mythology who, as punishment for her mother’s bragging, was chained to a rock as a sacrifice to a sea monster. Fortunately Perseus returning from slaying the gorgon, Medusa, saw the beautiful Andromeda, rescued her and later married her.

In 1866, three years before he produced his Andromeda painting, Sir Edward Poynter married Agnes Macdonald, described as “a lady of great beauty and musical talent.” She was also one of the famous Macdonald sisters.

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The current world auction record for a Poynter painting is �551,500 –the sum paid at Sotheby’s in London on November 2 1994, by multi- millionaire Cats, Evita and The Phantom Of The Opera composer, Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber for Poynter’s 1903 masterpiece, The Cave Of The Storm Nymphs, which Sotheby’s describe as “arguably the most erotic Victorian painting of nudes.”