Speaking of Lawrence Alma Tadema (see "Victorian Masterpieces at Auction" below), his original autograph stock book, found earlier this year nestled in a box of discarded 1960s girlie magazines, was sold in May for £25,000 at the Shropshire auctioneers Mullock's in Ludlow.
The morocco-bound ledger is an inventory of the paintings completed by Alma Tadema between 1851 and 1912 and those completed by his wife, Laura, between 1872 and 1909. It was uncovered by a vendor at a clearance auction in the London area earlier this year.
“The man who spotted it rang me up and asked me for my opinion as to whether he should bid for it,” says Mullock's historical documents specialist Richard Westwood-Brookes. "I told him immediately that what he had discovered was a true art historical treasure and he should try to get it at any price. In the end he paid just a few pounds for the whole carton, and then the underbidder asked him if he would sell him the magazines – which I gather he did.
“Alma-Tadema has listed everything he ever painted and everything which has been attributed to his wife, so this is a definitive record of what is and what isn't an original painting by him," says Westwood-Brookes. "Of particular interest are the copious notes which he wrote about both sets of paintings – and also the indication that some of them were overpainted, altered, and given different titles. There are also details on where paintings were exhibited and who the original customers were.”
The book also contains a number of original poems written by Alma Tadema, each assigned to specific pictures.
At the Mullock's sale on May 27, the ledger attracted international interest from private, trade, and institutional bidders, but sold to an anonymous buyer.
Shown here : Lawrence Alma Tadema and Laura Alma Tadema.