Ipswich paintings could fetch thousands

THREE 19th century oil paintings of Ipswich streets by a prolific artist are expected to fetch a total of £23,000 at an auction in Suffolk later this month(October 30).

THREE 19th century oil paintings of Ipswich streets by a prolific artist are expected to fetch a total of £23,000 at an auction in Suffolk later this month(October 30).

The pictures of Silent Street, Angel Lane and St Nicholas Street are by Thomas Smythe(1825-1906) and have been put up for sale by the Willis insurance group, which employs hundreds of Ipswich people.

The company recently moved its London headquarters and the Ipswich pictures come from their former London HQ.

Ipswich Museum has ruled out a bid for the paintings, which will be auctioned at Bonhams in Bury St Edmunds on October 30.


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But the outcome of the sale will be of interest to the museum, as they own eight oil paintings by Smythe, including one titled: Angel Corner, Ipswich.

Smythe's painting of Angel Lane, Ipswich - which is being sold at Bonhams in the same lot as another Smythe work, The Vegetable Seller - is tipped to sell for up to £8,000, while the pictures of Silent Street and St Nicholas Street - which are being sold together in the same lot - could fetch up to £15,000.

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Smythe lived and worked at various Ipswich addresses. In 1855, he was at Upper Brook Street; in 1856 he was in Queen Street; then in 1859 he was based at St Helen's Terrace, Woodbridge Road before he moved to Bolton Road.

Smythe's pictures have steadily increased in value over the past 150 years. For in the 1850s and 1860s, he was selling his paintings for between four guineas (£4.20 in modern money) and fifteen guineas (£15.75p).

In the mid 19th century those sums represented several weeks' wages for the average Ipswich worker.

The current world record for a Smythe picture is £14,300, the sum paid at Sotheby's in London on October 1 for an oil painting entitled Stopping At An Inn In Winter.

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