Mason picture up for auction

A PEN, ink and watercolour picture by one of Scarborough's most famous sons could sell for up to £7,000 when it is auctioned in London next month.

The picture – A Windjammer Amidst Smaller Shipping Off Scarborough – is undated but the artist Frank Henry Mason moved to Scarborough in or around 1894, when he was a teenager, and Scarborough Art Gallery owns several Mason watercolours, mostly painted in the early 1900s.

The picture up for sale – which is being sold at Bonhams in London on September 11 – is one of Mason’s more valuable works. The current world record for his work is 18,700, the sum paid at Bonhams in London on August 10 1994, for an oil painting, titled The Navy Has Wings.

Mason, born at Seaton Carew, Hartlepool, on October 1875, came to Scarborough to work as a marine engineer for Parsons, the firm set up by Sir Charles Parsons, who developed the high-speed steam turbine and also – in 1897 – built the first turbine-driven steamship, the Turbinia.

Mason, who lived in lodgings at 128 North Marine Road,Scarborough, above the north cliffs, said: “It was when I was employed in Scarborough with this firm’s engineers that my artistic enthusiasms burst into flower very definitely.”

It was in 1897-1898 – at around the time of the launch of the new-fangled Turbinia – that Mason quit marine engineering to become a full-time artist. He bought his paints and brushes from Scarborough fine art dealers Haydon Hare. Mason later recalled: “In my spare hours I used to potter about the harbour, sketching.”

Mason married in 1899 and he and wife, Edith, moved to Rockside House, Blenheim Terrace, Scarborough, overlooking the North Bay.

In 1906 he exhibited a picture in London – Steam Trawlers Entering Scarborough – which he offered for sale at 73, a big sum in the early 1900s, but most of his watercolours at that time cost less than 20.

Mason went on to become one of Britain’s finest railway poster artists and his posters, from the 1920s and 1930s, often fetch hundreds of pounds when they are auctioned in London.

At its auction on September 11, Bonhams is also selling three oil paintings of Whitby by Richard Weatherill (1844-1913), each of which is expected to fetch up to 5,000.