Victorian Pears Soap advert sets record sale at £300,000

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2015-06-26 10:30:41

Victorian Pears Soap advert sets record sale at £300,000

12 Jul 2012, 12:47 GMT+01

This Philip Hermogenes Calderon painting, ‘Captain of the Eleven’, was painted in 1882. Thomas Barratt, managing director of Pears Soap and the man responsible for the famous Pears ‘Bubble’ advert, spotted the potential appeal of the charming young boy in his cricket whites to the Victorian public.

First issued in the Pears’ Christmas Annual in 1898, the image was instantly popular, reproduced as posters, postcards, even presentation cricket bats. It came to represent a classic image of Victorian childhood innocence to the society emerging into the 20th century.

The painting has been hanging in a primary school in Blackpool since 1926, donated by a local councillor. It sold at Bonhams 19th century Paintings, Drawings and Watercolours auction on July 11th for an impressive £289,250 after an estimate of £100,000-£150,000. This price sets a new record for Calderon’s work, and raises significant funds for the school that consigned it: money that will increase opportunities for their children.

The Pears Soap Company have a history of influence and development of advertising methods. Pears Soap memorabilia is therefore popular amongst advertising collectors.

Another top seller at the Bonhams auction was Archibald Thorburn’s watercolour ‘Blackcock and Grouse in flight – Winter’ (1924), a stunning snowy snapshot of the stillness and motion of untouched nature, sold for £193,250.

Austrian Rudolf Ernst claimed the third spot with his ‘After Prayers’, an almost photorealistic image of the African North-East, described by Bonhams as ‘evoking nobility and strength’, which fetched £145,250.

In the fourth highest price realised, Swedish artist Anders Zorn also has an African focus, with his ‘Man and Boy in Algiers’ (1887), capturing the strong North African light falling on two figures in traditional dress. This achieved £103,250.

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