Playwright’s painting of ship off Shoreham sells at auction

The oil painting Off Shore Shoreham by Noel Coward, which sold for �2,800

The oil painting Off Shore Shoreham by Noel Coward, which sold for �2,800

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A PAINTING by Sir Noël Coward of the sea off Shoreham has sold at auction for four times its pre-sale estimate.

The playwright’s oil painting, Off Shore Shoreham, was sold by fine art auctioneers Halls in Shrewsbury for £2,800.

Our auction provided a rare opportunity to purchase a painting by someone so famous, given that there is a very buoyant market for pictures by Churchill and Coward

Allan Darwell, head of the art department at Halls

The 22cm by 31cm oil on canvas, depicting a ship in choppy waters, was painted in 1950.

It went under the hammer at the Battlefield salerooms in Shrewsbury and sold to a Scottish bidder after keen competition from telephone and online bidders.

Allan Darwell, head of the art department at Halls, said: “The vendor lives in Australia and she inherited the painting from her parents, who purchased it from a gallery in the 1970s.

“Our auction provided a rare opportunity to purchase a painting by someone so famous, given that there is a very buoyant market for pictures by Churchill and Coward.”

It is claimed that Coward was advised on oil painting technique by Sir Winston Churchill, during a visit to the playwright’s mountaintop home, Firefly Estate in Jamaica.

An allergy meant that he had to wear plastic gloves when painting with oil and he often gave away his paintings to friends.

Coward was less than complimentary about commercial art, writing in his diary: “Compared with the pretentious muck in some London galleries... my amateur efforts appear brilliant.”

In 1973, 15 years after his death, 30 of his paintings sold for charity and raised £786,000.