Published: December 14, 2015
LONDON — Bonhams sold one of the most famous golfing paintings in the world for $1,093,477 at its Old Masters paintings auction December 9. Lemuel Francis Abbott’s portrait of Henry Callender standing in a landscape, in the red coat of Captain General of the Blackheath Golf Club and holding a putter is now said to be the most valuable portrait of golf ever sold at auction.
Also soldwas a rare iron headed putter from around 1780, almost certainly the same club featured in the portrait, for $94,607. Both lots went to the same buyer in the packed saleroom.
Painted between 1790 and 1798, Callender’s portrait is one of the earliest golf paintings of an identified sitter. Prints were made of the work in 1812 after Callender’s death and copies have hung in golf clubs and private collections worldwide for centuries. The original painting has hung at the Royal Blackheath Golf Club for more than 150 years, watching over the famous ‘Wee Dinners’ in the clubhouse. The Royal Blackheath has sold the painting to raise funds for the club’s acquisition of the freehold of its course and clubhouse from The Crown Estate.
“Working with this painting has taken our department on a fascinating journey through British cultural history,” said Andrew McKenzie, Bonhams’ Director of Old Master Paintings. “A Scottish expatriate, Henry Callender was both connoisseur and sociable bon viveur and his charisma shines through this charming painting. The sale marked an incredibly exciting opportunity for golfing enthusiasts all over the world.”
All prices reported include the buyer’s premium. For more information, www.bonhams.com.
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