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LAST week's column featured a painting by Liverpool marine artist WilliamHoward Yorke (1847-1921) which was on sale at Sotheby's in London. The barque Framat portrayed in port view, inward bound for Liverpool off the North Wales coast, the Skerries reef and lighthouse being visible on the left of the painting, was estimated at pounds 3,000-pounds 4,000. It was sold on Wednesday for a staggering pounds 9,000.

Word reaches me this week of the sale of a work by an even more celebrated Liverpool artist, Samuel Walters (1811-1882), coming up at Christie's in New York on July 25.

The oil on canvas, a classic Samuel Walters portrait, is signed and inscribed Ship Euphrasia entering the port of Liverpool.

The American full-rigged merchantman is shown progressively shortening sail in three positions off the north end of Liverpool's waterfront. The stern view (to the extreme right) shows her with a paddle-tug in attendance alongside being gently nudged through the entrance of the Prince's Dock where the basin beyond can be seen packed with other shipping.

Walters was taught by his father and went on to be dominant among Liverpool's marine artists. His work is widely collected both in the UK and in America, with the result that prices have spiralled beyond the reach of most. Euphrasia is estimated at EUR60,000-EUR80,000 (about pounds 30,000- pounds 40,000), but will probably make more.

In his definitive book on the artist, Liverpool marine art historian Sam Davidson reckons the Walters family probably originated in Pembrokeshire, crossing the Bristol Channel to Ilfracombe in south Devon in the early 18th century.

Ancestors were carpenters and shipwrights and one was a lieutenant in the Royal Navy. Miles Walters (1773- 1855) was also a shipwright and probably spent some time at sea.

However, he was the first member of the family to have turned to drawing and painting as a means of making a living.

Miles and his family moved from London to Liverpool in about 1826, by which time son Samuel had already begun to show signs of his father's talent for painting.

Samuel exhibited at the Liverpool Academy for the first time in 1830, the picture being titled Dutch Boats in a Fresh Breeze.

He also attended Liverpool Academy Schools and by 1834, he was well established in his chosen career as a professional marine painter.

He married Betsy Staniland Pilley, the daughter of a Yorkshire cloth dealer, the following year and the couple had nine children, three of whom died in infancy.

Apart from a brief return to his native London, Samuel Walters spent the next 30 years consolidating his position as Liverpool's leading marine painter, with a growing reputation on both sides of the Atlantic.

However, the artist's success in obtaining regular maritime commissions from ship owners meant he had little time to paint for pleasure.

There were some memorable exceptions, though, one of which was his depiction of the Great Hurricane of January 18 1839, which was responsible for unprecedented losses among vessels. Walters painted several pictures representing some of the most prominent local incidents in the disaster, still considered among the best examples of narrative marine paintings.

In addition to an increasing number of commissions from rich ship owners and captains, he also found time to exhibit both locally and in London.

Comfortably off and in his mid 40s, he moved from the city in 1855 to live across the water in Bootle to an address in Faulkner Crescent, where the family was to remain for almost 20 years.

There, only 100 yards away, was an unspoilt beach from which Walters could find inspiration from the comings and goings of a busy port, observing and sketching under all conditions of weather, tide and light.

He died from cancer, aged 70, in March 1882 and was buried in Anfield Cemetery.

The contents of his studio - about 200 pictures - were dispersed by auction, but tragically three or four sacks full of sketches were thought to be of no value and were burnt.

Walters's widow survived him by nine years. His eldest son, George Stanfield Walters (1837-1924), inherited his father's talent. But the nature of marine art was changing fast, and he never managed to achieve the same success.

Euphrasia was built in Jackson's yard, Newburyport, Massachusetts, in 1842. A three-master designed with two decks, she was measured at 487 tons and had a draft of 17ft.

She was last listed in 1859 as the Property of H Sheldon of New York and sailing under Captain Anderson. She disappears from record in 1860.

If Sam Walters marine pictures are out of my reach, there was no point even thinking about bidding on the Charles Sergeant Jagger bronze of Wipers - military slang for Ypres.

The evocative 18 3/4 -inch bronze, an example of which I saw for the first time at the sale of the Leverhulme Collection in Wirral in 2001, is the study for the large-scale figure Soldier on Defence, which can be seen on Hoylake War Memorial (right).

Being commissioned to model the Hoylake bronzes was a turning point in Jagger's career.

Following its completion in 1922, the sculptor was never short of work and he went on to his greatest commission, for the figures on the Royal Artillery Memorial at Hyde Park Corner in London.

The Leverhulme cast, one of only six in existence, was estimated at between pounds 20,000-pounds 30,000 but sold for a huge pounds 39,600. Since then, prices have boomed.

Interestingly, publicity surrounding the Leverhulme bronze brought a rare macquette for of one of the London memorial bronzes on to the market. It sold at Christie's for a staggering pounds 360,000.

The Wipers study was expected to fetch pounds 100,000-pounds 150,000 in a sale at Sotheby's. I'll let you know how it got on.


The American merchantman Euphrasia in three positions off the Liverpool waterfront by Samuel Walters (inset above); The large-scale Hoylake Jagger figure as it stands today on Hoylake War Memorial
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jul 14, 2007
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