Oil painting of Staithes, near Whitby, reunited with place of birth is up for sale at David Duggleby sale

A 100-year-old oil painting of Staithes which recently returned to its place of birth after many years on the other side of the world, is up for sale.

By Duncan Atkins
Friday, 11th March 2022, 12:22 pm

Having left England early in the 20th Century, the painting - Evening at Staithes - by renowned Scots painter William Pratt, dated 1909, shows the High Street in moonlight with the village's bonnetted shoppers lit by the glow from the shop fronts.

Stuart Hartley bought the painting in Australia after a winning bidder decided it didn't suit his home.

He said: "This painting was probably the property of a local early settler to New Zealand and came up for sale at an auction at the well known auction house of Dunbar Sloane in New Zealand's capital city, Wellington in 2021.

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Evening at Staithes, by William Pratt.

"The winning bidder was a local who, when having taken it home was told that neither the subject nor the 19th Century frame suited the decor of his modern home and he had to put it up for auction again.

Mr Hartley bought it and contacted David Duggleby's in Scarborough for advice on its sale.

It is now Lot 106 in Duggleby's Spring Art Sale on March 25, with an estimate of £1,200 to £1,800.

He said: "Duggleby's have done some excellent detective work and can now reveal that Pratt visited Staithes multiple times in the early 1900s and companion painting to this was sold by Lyon and Turnbull in 2016.

"The shops illustrated in the present painting have been identified as a grocery run by Joseph Verrill who was assisted by his two daughers, Lavinia and Hannah.

"The Verrills were one of the largest families in Staithes; Joseph Verrill Snr was the first coxswain of the Staithes lifeboat and Isaac Verrill a fisherman.

"The potential sale of Lot 106 will be of local interest and add another episode to its interesting history.

"The building illustrated became a gift shop of W & H Dean in the 1950s and is now the Endeavour Cafe."

As a youngster, Mr Hartley's family were bombed out during World War Two and he went to live in Castleford where my father's relatives had a fish and fruit and vegetable shop.

He was out camping with the Boy Scouts at Robin Hoods Bay in August 1945 when the war ended and said: "VJ night at Robin Hood's Bay was a great celebration with flares lighting up the night sky."

He also enjoyed regular seaside trips to Staithes, Whitby and Scarborough and his wife is from Middlesbrough.

The Spring Art Sale also features 18 works by George Weatherill and his children Richard and Mary.

Among the works are Lot 84 - a view of Whitby by George Weatherill and Lot 107 - The Jet Worker, by Albert George Stevens, who is also a part of the Staithes Group.