Painting by Preston artist once snapped up for £480 could sell for £100k

WORK OF ART: Portrait of the Reverend Thomas D'Oyly
WORK OF ART: Portrait of the Reverend Thomas D'Oyly
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An eighteenth century oil painting by a Preston artist which was once snapped up for £480 is set to sell for up to £100,000.

Arthur Devis painted the picture, Portrait of the Reverend Thomas D’Oyly, in or around 1743-1744 when he was in his early 30s.

It changed hands for just £480 in 1954, and again in 1989, when Alfred Taubman, a billionaire shopping mall developer, bought it.

Following Mr Taubman’s death last year, the painting has been listed for auction at Sothebys in New York – with an estimate of between £68,000 and £102,000.

That would make it the third Devis painting to fetch a six-figure sum.

Arthur Devis was born in Preston on February 19,1712, and was the eldest of the four sons of carpenter and town councillor Anthony Devis and his wife, Ellin.

His family lived in Church Street, at a house and joiner’s shop.

In her series Notable People of Preston, Gillian Lawson – archivist of the Preston Historical Society – said that Devis “is best known nowadays for his conversation pieces –portraits of local landed gentry and their families.

“His style has an unmistakably naive quality and his figures are thought to be ‘doll-like’ in their appearance.

“This is probably because Devis rarely painted from life, but preferred small wooden ‘lay figures’ or models and tended to only include the sitter during the final stage to achieve a good likeness.”

Devis also worked in London but returned to Preston in 1733 and painted a picture of Hoghton Tower in 1735.

Two years later he began painting portraits.

The Harris Museum and Art Gallery in Preston owns one of the finest collections of Arthur Devis paintings.

In the autumn of 1983, a major exhibition of Devis’s work was staged there and later at the National Portrait Gallery in London.

The current world auction record for a Devis work is £289,250, the sum paid at Christie’s in London on June 18,2008, for an oil painting titled Group portrait of John Offley Crewe and his Family.

The Sothebys auction will take place on January 27 in New York.