Full Brontë as newly discovered painting of ‘three sisters’ to go under hammer

The hitherto unknown watercolour of all three Bronte sisters
The hitherto unknown watercolour of all three Bronte sisters
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An auctioneer is hoping to score a hat-trick, selling a third item believed to be linked to the literary Brontë sisters.

The painting, thought to be a hitherto unknown watercolour of all three sisters, is the latest in a series of unrelated items concerning the trio to go under the hammer.

Believed to have been painted by 19th century English artist Sir Edwin Landseer, it will be included in a two-day fine art and antiques sale later this month at JP Humbert Auctioneers in Towcester, Northamptonshire.

It follows the auction house’s recent sale of a small portrait believed to be of Emily Brontë for £4,600. In December, JP Humbert’s sold another painting of the reclusive writer for £23,836.

Auctioneer Jonathan Humbert said there was no estimate on the latest discovery as it was impossible to say how much it would fetch, but he was hoping for a third sale of a Brontë-related artefact.

Mr Humbert said the painting, which appears to show all three sisters, has been attributed by a team from the National Portrait Gallery as well as four years of research by the vendor.

He said there were 10 evidential reasons supporting the suggestion it is of the Brontë sisters, and said its quality suggested it could only be attributed to an artist of Landseer’s distinction.

The piece of art is believed to be signed by Landseer and matches known features of the sisters.

“This is an exciting and important painting of museum quality and has a story to tell,” he said. “I hope the art world will embrace it accordingly. There really is every possibility this is by Landseer and of the three Brontë sisters.”

The sale of an unpublished manuscript by Charlotte Brontë prompted a flurry of items relating to the sisters when a Paris museum bought it for a record £690,850 at Sotheby’s in December.

It set new auction records for a manuscript by Charlotte and for a literary work by any of the Brontë sisters when it was bought by La Musée des Lettres et Manuscrits.

The latest painting relating to the sisters is set to go under the hammer on April 26.