UP FOR SALE : ART MARKET

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The Independent Culture
THE LONG-RUNNING American passion for English pictures is highlighted by an important sale at Sotheby's New York on Thursday. So many high-flyers would rarely be seen in a single sale in London.

There is a great Turner watercolour, a stormy seascape called "Whitehaven, Cumberland" which he painted around 1835 for his series of "Picturesque Views in England and Wales". It appears to have arrived in America around 1904 when one Robert Vose of Bos-ton bought it from Leggatt's, the London dealers. Its present owner tried to sell it in one of Sotheby's London sales in November 1992 with an estimate of £300,000-£400,000; there were no takers and he has now lowered his sights to $380,000-$450,000 (£240,000- £285,000).

The reverse is the case with James Tissot's "October", a 4ft painting of the artist's beautiful red-haired mistress, Kathleen Newton, walking under an autumn-tinted chestnut tree. The American owner tried it at Christie's New York in 1985 with an estimate of $200,000-$250,000 (£130,000-£160,000) and it didn't sell; last year's huge Tissot prices have led him to raise his sights. Sotheby's have valued the picture at $1.2m -$1.8m (£760,000- £1.14m).

Another American owner is also looking for a quick profit on the beautiful, quiet study of a classically draped lady by Albert Joseph Moore, titled "Forget-me-nots". The Fine Art Society in Bond Street sold it to an American collector in 1989 for £85,000 and Sotheby's hopes to double his money with an estimate of $200,000-$300,000 (£130,000-£190,000).

Other highlights include a group of Alma-Tadema's famous scenes from everyday life in classical times. His very first classical painting, "Gallo- Roman Women" of 1865, which was bought by a New York collector in the year that it was painted, is offered with an estimate of $200,000-$300,000 (£130,000-£190,000); while "Whispering Noon", which depicts two ladies seated by a marble fountain surrounded by clouds of sun-drenched, purple- blue delphiniums under a matching sky, is expected to make $450,000-$650,000 (£285,000-£410,000).

Geraldine Norman

Costume dramas: three studies of beautiful women in lovingly rendered garments are expected to fetch high prices at Sotheby's New York on Thursday. James Tissot's `October' (above), a portrait of his red-haired mistress under an autumn chestnut, is offered with an estimate of $200,000-$250,000; while `Forget-me-nots' (left), a portrait of a woman in romantically conceived classical dress by Albert Joseph Moore, is expected to fetch $200,000- $300,000. Ladies in lavish classical garb are the hallmark of Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, whose first work in this genre was sold to an American buyer in 1865. Sotheby's are offering `Whispering Noon' (right) for an estimated $450,000-$650,000.

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