Sudbury: Mystery buyer has an eye on council artwork

(c) Sudbury Town Council; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

(c) Sudbury Town Council; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation - Credit: (c) Sudbury Town Council; Suppli

A mystery buyer has expressed an interest in purchasing a potentially valuable painting from Sudbury Town Council.

The work, by George Washington Brownlow, which has been in the council’s hands for more than 20 years, currently hangs in the newly refurbished mayor’s parlour at the Town Hall.

Entitled The Moorhen’s Nest, it is thought to be the last and largest work by the prolific Victorian artist, who died in 1876 and lived for much of his life in Belchamp Walter, just over the Essex border from Sudbury. The prospective buyer is thought to be an avid collector of Brownlow’s work.

Will Axon, from Rowley’s fine art auctioneers, believes the painting could be worth as much as £15,000 if sold through a dealer.

He said: “Much of Brownlow’s work, which is of a similar subject, featuring children playing outside or in cottage interiors, sells for around the £1,000 to £2,000 mark, but most of his paintings are at least half the size of The Moorhen’s Nest. Given the provenance of the painting and the fact that it is a good size, it could make in the region of £10,000 on the open market and if you had to purchase it from a dealer, then it would be nearer the £15,000 mark.”

Mr Axon said Victorian “chocolate boxy” paintings were not as fashionable these days, but a Brownlow work sold at auction for £14,500 in 1981 when this type of picture was very much in demand.

Sudbury’s leisure and environment committee was told an approach had been made on behalf of an interested buyer.

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Committee member Lesley Ford Platt said: “Surely we are not so short of money that we have to start selling the family silver?

It looks so lovely hanging on the wall and I am of the opinion that we should hang on to our assets.”