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'Lost' painting expected to make £200,000

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: September 13, 2012

Summer Idleness: Day Dreams, by celebrated artist John William Godward, was painted in 1909. It made £70 when sold at Christie's in London in 1937

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A lovely painting which made just £100 when it was last sold 50 years ago and has remained hidden from view since then is set to fetch up to £200,000 when it comes up for auction.

Summer Idleness: Day Dreams was created by celebrated but tragic John William Godward in 1909, and with no sightings of it for decades, the art world believed it had been lost forever.

The picture was known to have passed through Christie's in London in 1937, making just under £70. Then, after a short spell with London dealers, its value increased by only £30 when it was sold by Harrods 20 years later.

The only clue scholars had to its existence was a print from 1910. However, the major Edwardian artwork has re-emerged in Somerset after the daughter of the woman who bought it from Harrods put it up for sale.

Richard Kay, specialist with the auction house Lawrences in Crewkerne, who will offer it for sale on October 12, said it was an important discovery.

"It's a wonderful find," he said. "The owners knew that they owned a fine picture but had no idea that its whereabouts had been unknown for well over half a century."

Dr Vern Swanson, an authority on Godward, has recently assessed the picture from a photograph and declares it to be a revelation, commenting that it is "one of the most sensitively coloured paintings in Godward's oeuvre".

He will now include it with a bigger illustration in an updated edition of his book on the artist and said he was delighted to learn of its existence.

Mr Kay said the artist, who died in 1922, led a colourful but ultimately tragic life.

"Godward dismayed his middle class London family by pursuing a career in art rather than a more traditional profession.

"He enjoyed great successes at The Royal Academy until abstraction and modernism began to replace traditional historical themes in the early 20th century.

"Godward further disgusted his parents by living with one of his alluring models and then, as the real world failed to match his own idealised artistic vision of it, he took his own life in 1922."

Mr Kay said that, horrified yet again by such a scandalous death, Godward's family cut his face out of all family photographs and destroyed all his papers.

He added that the artist's work had soared in value in recent years.

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