The Guildhall Museum, home to a collection of artworks by Rochester’s Charles Spencelayh, master of detail, are re-evaluated by Culvertons.
The Guildhall Museum in Rochester Kent is a permanent home to a collection of paintings, drawings, and prints by locally-born artist Charles Spencelayh (1865 – 1958). Over one day in May, Culvertons was requested to take up temporary residence in order to assess the collection and its condition. This assessment, combined with further off-site research, enabled our valuers accurately to estimate the financial protection currently required against damage or theft for each artwork. On submitting our report, Medway Council and the Guildhall Museum were able to update their insurance policies accordingly.
Throughout the first half of the twentieth century, after training in London and Paris, Charles Spencelayh achieved great acclaim as a miniaturist, watercolorist, and etcher. However, it was his much-loved rendering of domestic interiors in meticulous detail using oil and brush that was his tour de force. Much in demand throughout his lifetime, these images, now synonymous with Spencelayh, join a select group of artists’ work that often transcends the current apathy for this genre of painting. His works can still achieve impressive results in the saleroom, depending on their size, subject matter, and quality.
Despite shrinking government grants and stringent cost-cutting, Mr. Nye, Collections Officer for Medway council, and his colleagues at the Guildhall Museum have, in our opinion, successfully sourced, by way of prudent purchase and generous donation maintained and conserved a collection of artworks that show the range of this masterly painter, his life, and in particular his association with Rochester.
The commercial highlights of the collection are: ‘Polly Not Forgotten’, a small but dazzling oil showing props that are often included within Spencelayh’s most sought-after works; ‘If They Were Real’, an enchanting painting of a boy holding a still life of fruit; and ‘My Pet’, a depiction of his first wife, Elizabeth Hodson Stowe with a dove perched on her finger, that has a jewel-like quality.
The remaining personal, preparatory, and locally-inspired paintings and sketches provided interesting background information to Spencelayh for our valuation team and should be just as much a draw to any visitor. The opportunity to handle unique works of art when applying our valuers’ lifetime of experience and judgment, is one of the many positive exchanges that can occur when working with museums and galleries.
Culvertons welcomes enquiries from custodians of public collections across the UK.
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Culvertons provide valuation, restoration, conservation, and probate services, throughout central and southern England, principally in Surrey, Sussex, Kent & Hampshire, and London.We pride ourselves on our customer service and strong ethical working practices, striving to ensure these are demonstrated in all aspects of the work we do.
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