These are a few of my favorite things!

I’ve bought and sold over five hundred paintings, watercolors, and prints during my lifetime. Some have defined my interest in art, especially watercolors, and have become a part of a modest collection. Others were bought and subsequently sold to enable the improvement of the collection which has remained modest in value but includes the work of some very successful artists. Those acquisitions that were sold included some excellent art and many works by unidentified or relatively unknown painters.

With very few exceptions, I bought art that included some element appealing to my personal taste. Sometimes they didn’t represent the artist’s best work or did not represent the work for which they were best known. They were, nevertheless, appealing and if not a “keeper” I was usually able to to achieve a quick turnover – one antique map sold before the auction had concluded. Another category that was disposed of rather quickly were fine examples by unknown or unappreciated artists. The latter were bought for ridiculously low prices and sold for a modest profit.

There were two periods when most of my art was accumulated – during the years when I lived in Scotland with my family and the years 1998-2010. During the latter period following my retirement, I was actively involved in a commercial business that I named Thistle Fine Art. In the beginning, it was an Internet website gallery and later included a gallery on Main Street in Rockport, Massachusetts. Purchasing was suspended with the closure of the Main Street gallery and selling ceased in 2018. The remaining inventory and part of my personal collection is featured on this site ( Recently, I decided to assemble a photo gallery to include all the art I have sold over the years. I succeeded in locating images for most (probably 95%) and created a Google Photo gallery (for my personal interest). While engaged in that exercise, I was reminded of the many things I had sold which I consider “special”. Many of these were of modest value but appealed to me in some special way.

The first image below does not fit the requirement for personal appeal, necessarily, but is offered here because it was my first auction purchase. It was appealing but not a “keeper” –

though it did remain in my collection for many years. I must admit that while I liked it my interest was because it was signed and inscribed by an important Scottish watercolorist. The purchase was a good learning experience. When I saw it at the auction preview, I observed paper “foxing” and missing gesso from the frame, so I decided to not bid. When the painting was placed on the easel, under a spotlight, it looked great, however. The auctioneer didn’t get a bid initially and lowered the starting price. Before I realized it, my hand was raised and as there was no other bidder, I had bought my first work of art at auction! When I collected the painting, it didn’t look nearly as good, and I remembered why I had decided to not bid – too late! Like 99% of my purchases, though, when it was eventually sold it realized a nice profit.

I saw this framed watercolor on eBay during the early days when that company was selling good art online. This was the period when they purchased Butterfield & Butterfield, a San Franciso firm instantly

recognized in the art world. I had seen many Thorburn watercolors for sale at auctions in Scotland for prices I could never afford. I joined the Internet bidding and was successful, paying more than I should have but still well below the usual price for a Thorburn watercolor. Years later, I took the watercolor to Sotheby in London and consigned it for sale. I received written notification of their acceptance, only to later be informed they would not be listing the painting in the sale catalogue as “Archibald Thorburn” – due to lack of provenance. I asked for them to return it to me and it was subsequently sold privately – for more than I paid but far less than if it had sold at Sothebys London. 

A perfect example of an unsigned painting worthy of any collection was this watercolor by a Scottish artist from the late Victorian period or early 20th century. 

I was extremely reluctant to part with it but accepted a good offer after about thirty years!

This Scottish watercolor was signed Fraser, a common name in Scotland and thus impossible for me to attribute. It was presented under a French matt but unframed. I didn’t want to invest in the cost of a good frame, so I let this one go, also. It was a fine example of Scottish/English watercolor.

The pair below were signed and inscribed but I was never able to decipher the signature, so they too were sold after many years in my collection. They were good examples of similar subjects seen frequently in the British art market. I obtained them in the early 1970s when watercolors could be bought for a few pounds ($5.80 = one pound at the time). The buyer of this pair was still able to acquire them for a modest investment.


All of the above were works on paper, as my budget precluded, for the most part, buying good quality oils. Still, if a painting was unsigned the price was often no more than a good, signed watercolor so from time to time I was able to see something that I liked, and could afford to buy.

This was one of those paintings and it ticked all my boxes. I liked it and was confident it had been painted by a competent professional who didn’t feel a need to sign his name. I did my “due diligence” and decided it was painted by an outstanding, deceased Canadian artist, so I attributed it to him – without any intent to sell. Subsequently, I did offer it for sale but was met with skepticism and rejection. After many years parted with the painting without my attribution ever being vindicated. I regret selling!

I bought many more unsigned oils but few that I wanted to keep. Usually they were either signed indistinctly or painted by a minor or unknown artists.


James Patchell Chettle was not unknown (in fact, his works can be seen in several British public collections), but I had never heard of him. This painting of a view in the Peake District of England was subsequently sold to a fellow collector/dealer. In this case my taste in art, at least, was vindicated! 

A painting signed Loven was offered at auction and didn’t get a lot of attention. I liked it, despite being unable to discover which Loven had painted it. It was unframed, however, and quite large, so it too was offered for sale and quickly found a buyer. This is one of many I wish was still in my collection! 

Another “mystery” painting is this lagoon scene at sunset. Unsigned but a work of quality. 

These are just a few of my favorite paintings, watercolors, and prints acquired over the years. I could add others, but while writing this blog I decided to choose my top twenty favorites among those on this site ( Listed below is my selection in alphabetical order by artist name. It hasn’t been easy! 


1) Bill Bailey (American) Contemporary 
Curious Cows, watercolor, signed l/r, 
20.0″ x 30″ sight, 22.0″ x 32.0″ frame 

2) Sir Frank William Brangwyn RA, RWS, PRBA, RE, HRSA (English) 1867 – 1956 
Windmill and Cart, etching, pencil signed lower right, 18.75″ x 20.75″ plate, 31.5″ x 32.25″ frame 

3) Stephen Crowther, ARCA, RBA (English) 1922 – 2007 
Venice Café, pastel, signed/dated 1989, 
18″ x 12″ sight, 25″ x 18″ matt 

4) Charles John DeLacy (English) 1856 – 1929 
Thames Shipping, watercolor, signed l/r, 18″ x 13″ sight, 26″ x 20″ frame 

5) Robert Eadie RSW (Scottish) 1877 – 1954 
Windmill at Abbeville, watercolor, signed, 12.5″ x 10.25″ sight, 17.0″ x 14.25 

6) Sir Ernest George RA, RE, PRIBA (English) 1839 – 1922 
Rumbling Bridge, Perthshire, watercolor, signed initials, l/r, about 9.25″ x 6.5″ sight, about 19″ x 16″ frame 

7) Robert Hope RSA (Scottish) 1869-1936 
Evening on the Teviot, oil on canvas (laid down), signed, framed. 

8) Albany E. Howarth A.R.E. (English) 1872 – 1936 
A view of Stirling Castle – Scotland, etching, pencil signed, about 14″ x 18″ sight plus matt and frame 

9) Robert Gemmell Hutchison (Scottish) R.B.A., R.O.I., R.S.A., R.S.W. 
At Crail, watercolor, signed initials/inscribed l/l, 13.5″ x 9.75″ sight, 22″ x 17.5″ frame 

10) Percy Hague Jowett RWS, NEAC, NS, ARCA (English) 
1882 – 1955 
French Street Scene, watercolor, signed l/l, 16.25″ x 12.25″ sight. 25.0″ x 20.5″ frame 

11) Henry Wright Kerr, RSA, RSW (Scottish) 1857-1936 
Portraits of a Lady and Gentleman, a pair, watercolor, signed/dated 1917 l/r (Lady’s portrait), 34.25″ x 27″ oval, including frame 

12) William Bradley Lamond RBA (Scottish) 1857 – 1924 
The Lookout, Authmithie, watercolor, signed l/r, 7″ x 10″ sight, 14.5″ x 17.25″ frame 

13) Ann Davidson Muir RSW (Scottish) 1875 – 1951 
Polyanthus, oil on board, signed l/r, about 14″ x 9″ sight, 18″ x 13″ frame. 

14) Erskine Nicol R.A., R.S.A. (Scottish) 1825–1904 
Boat in Backwater, watercolor, signed/inscribed, dated ’55 l/r, 12″ x 16″ sight; original frame 

15) James Stuart Park (Scottish) 1862 – 1933 
Girl Among Flowers, oil on canvas, signed in monogram, u/r,
19.5″ x 15.5″ sight, 26.75″ x 22.75″ frame 

16) Robert Payton Reid A.R.S.A. (Scottish) 1859 – 1945 
The Forth Bridge from North Queensferry, oil on board, signed, 9.5″ x 13.25″ sight, 18.5″ x 22.5″ frame 

17) Alice Kent Stoddard, ANA (American) 1885 – 1976 
Reflections, oil on canvas, signed/dated 1959 l/l, 20″ x 16″ sight, 25″ x 21″ frame 

18) Joseph Teixeira de Mattos  (Netherlands) 1892 – 1971 
Horse Guards Parade, watercolor and pastel, signed l/r, 13″ x 8.75″ sight, 18.5″ x 13.5″ matt 

19) William Lionel Wyllie, RA (English) 1851-1931 
South Queensferry Fleet Returning to Rosyth, WWI, etching, pencil signed margin l/l, 8.75″ x 14.75″ plate, 16″ x 22″ matted 

20) Edward Vuillamy (English) 1876 – 1962 
Extensive landscape, watercolor, signed/dated 1923, 13″ x 18″ sight, 21.75″ x 26.5″ frame 



The selection of these twenty items from my collection/inventory was based on personal taste and not value. All reflect a certain degree of emotional attachment. More than half were purchased prior to 1978 and most of those have hung continuously since their acquisition.

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© Thistle Fine Art 2024

By Lowe

Retired director of Thistle Fine Art.

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