Lot 108
  • 108

John Cleveley the Elder

40,000 - 60,000 GBP
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  • John Cleveley the Elder
  • Shipping off a coast, with one flying the royal standard, another with a vice admiral of the red, another with a rear admiral of the blue
  • inscribed with inventory number lower left: 417
  • oil on canvas


The following condition report is provided by Hamish Dewar who is an external specialist and not an employee of Sotheby's: Structural Condition: The canvas is lined and is securely attached to a keyed wooden stretcher. This is ensuring a relatively even and stable structural support. There is horizontal line of paint loss with an associated distortion to the canvas in the upper right of the sky. Paint surface: The paint surface has a relatively even and heavily discoloured varnish layer and the painting would respond well to cleaning. There is a very small white accretion above the left part of the lower edge. The paint surface has an overall pattern of very fine craquelure. This appears entirely stable. Inspection under ultra-violet light confirms the heavily discoloured varnish layers which prevent the ultraviolet light from fully penetrating. Inspection under ultra-violet light also shows scattered areas of retouching, including: 1) an area of retouching in the lower centre of the sky, 2) three retouchings within the sky towards the centre of the left edge, 3) two retouchings above and to the left of the ship's masts in the centre right of the composition, 4) a retouching on the left part of the lower edge and a further retouching within the sea in the lower right of the composition. Several of these retouchings appear to correspond to historic repairs. Due to the opaque varnish layers it is difficult to ascertain the extent of any previous restoration work. Summary: The painting would therefore appear to be in relatively good and stable condition and would benefit cleaning, restoration and revarnishing including the removal of a heavily discoloured varnish layer, the localised treatment of a minor damage in the upper right of the composition, and for inpainting where required.
"This lot is offered for sale subject to Sotheby's Conditions of Business, which are available on request and printed in Sotheby's sale catalogues. The independent reports contained in this document are provided for prospective bidders' information only and without warranty by Sotheby's or the Seller."

Catalogue Note

Although this painting is inscribed with the inventory number '417', this does not appear to correspond to the entry in the March 1833 Newbattle Abbey inventory. That painting is described as 'Ships in a calm', measuring 36 x 56 1/2  in. ('William Van de Velde II attrib.'). It is recorded in the Newbattle Abbey inventories of May 1878 (Front Stairs); 21 May 1900 (Study); and 1958 (described as 'Sea piece with men-o'-war').