Painting by Victorian King’s Lynn artist to be auctioned

H.M.S.Bellerophon by Thomas Baines ANL-161123-130841001
H.M.S.Bellerophon by Thomas Baines ANL-161123-130841001

An 1840 oil painting by trail-blazing Lynn explorer and artist, Thomas Baines, is set to fetch about £10,000 at an auction on Thursday.

Baines was born, raised and educated in Lynn and Lynn Museum own 10 of his oil paintings, including Greyfriars Tower, 1854, and South Gates,Lynn, 1854.

In the 1850s, Baines accompanied Dr David Livingstone on his expedition along the Zambezi river, in Africa, and became one of the first Europeans to view Victoria Falls.

Baines is also one of the few King’s Lynn men to have a river, a mountain and a beetle named after him (Bolbotritus bainesi, which he discovered beside the Mungone river).

The Baines painting coming up for sale at Christie’s South Kensington in London next Thursday is entitled ‘HMS Bellerophon leading the bombardment of the Syrian fortress of Acre on 3 November 1840’, and dated December 19,1840, when Baines was only 20.

The picture is particularly topical because it depicts conflict in Syria.

In 1839, after a decade of unrest in the Middle East, the Great Powers (Britain, Austria, France and Russia) agreed to help Turkey recover her province of Syria, which had been effectively independent since an insurrection there in 1831.

The Baines painting is expected to fetch between £8,000 and £12,000 at the imminent Christie’s auction, which neatly coincides with the 196th anniversary, on Sunday(November 27), of Thomas Baines’s birth in Lynn on November 27, 1820.

Baines was educated at Horatio Nelson’s Classical and Commerical Academy and at Mr Beloe’s school, in Lynn.

In 1842,he emigrated to South Africa and settled in Cape Town, where he became a marine and portrait painter.

According to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography: “In 1846, he began his career as a traveller, using his writing and painting to finance his explorations.

“In the late 1840s, he started to sketch the battlefield scenes which some regard as his most memorable work and between 1851 and 1852 he was the official war artist to the British forces during the Cape Frontier 
War.”

The ODNB says: “Baines never married, but his pleasant manner and faithful nature secured him many friends.

“He was energetic and active, despite his limp, which resulted from the ill setting of a fractured femur... although largely self-taught and working under very difficult and, in the case of his war sketches, dangerous conditions, he produced technically accomplished and sympathetic sketches, watercolours and oils, which were highly regarded in his own lifetime and were later much prized, especially in southern Africa and in Australia.”