17/09/2013 Pictures & Prints
Paintings by Berwick artist Frank Watson Wood set for auction
A family who created a popular line in sweets also had a taste for the work of an artist from their home town.
The Cowe family set up a sweet making company in 1801 and came up with Berwick Cockles.
They also later collected the work of Berwick painter Frank Watson Wood.
His paintings were acquired by five kings, three queens, princes and dukes, and he was also commissioned to paint the surrendered German fleet at Scapa Flow in Scotland in 1918.
Today paintings by Wood from William Cowe’s collection will be sold at Newcastle by auctioneers Anderson & Garland. Wood, who died in 1953, painted marine subjects, landscapes, portraits and golfing scenes. One of his golf pictures recently sold for £15,000.
Mr Cowe’s grandmother was Wood’s sister, and the family own a number of his paintings.
Another painting by Frank Watson WoodAnother painting by Frank Watson Wood
Mr Cowe said: “I’ve kept the bigger ones, however I had too many and nowhere to hang them. I was in a great big house but moved into a smaller one after I retired a couple of years ago.
“My great uncle has a lot of collectors and there are still a lot of his pictures in Berwick. The ships are quite a big thing but he was a fantastic portrait painter too. Frank painted ring the war and that’s when he was probably at his best.”
Several of the paintings in the sale depict the conflict at sea, including the destruction of the German warships Bismark and Graf Spee.
At one time Wood taught at Newcastle School of Art and scenes from Tyneside also feature in the sale.
One of his marine scenes was acquired by Edward VI and he was official artist on the Canadian tour of George VI in 1939.
Berwick Council presented one of Wood’s views of the town to Princess Elizabeth in 1947 to mark her engagement to the Duke of Edinburgh.
Wood was also commissioned to paint Berwick and Northumbrian scenes for posters and carriage decoration for the London and North Eastern Railway. His son Frank Watson Wood jnr and grandson David Wood both became gifted artists.
Mr Cowe was himself painted in his shop by Swedish arist Brita Granstrom, who lives near Berwick.
He said: “Frank was born and brought up here and he worked in our family business before he decided he wanted to be an artist.
“He went on a lot of royal tours and was commissioned to keep a record of it all. Some of his naval pictures are hanging in Greenwich.
“He was around when I was at school. He was a very nice, kind gentleman.” Jack Dudgeon, Anderson & Garland representative for north Northumberland and the Borders, said: “There should be a lot of interest. As an artist Wood is well-collected.
“He painted all the golf courses up the east coast and four or five of his pictures were hanging in the Royal Yacht Britannia’s stateroom.”
Painting by Frank Watson WoodPainting by Frank Watson Wood
Also in the sale are 22 paintings from the collection of Newcastle writer Sid Chaplin and his wife Rene.
The son of a coal miner, Sid Chaplin included in his collection the work of County Durham artist Norman Cornish, who depicts mining scenes and views of his home town of Spennymoor.
In the sale are Cornish’s image of the Durham Miners’ Gala, estimated at £2,000-£3,000 and a pit scene titled The Gantry at £2,500-£4,500.
Also for sale are 21 theatrical drawings and stage set designs by pitman painter Oliver Kilbourn, together with performance programmes from the Ashington and District Co-operative Corral & Operatic Society.