Historic pre-Second World War painting of Paris up for auction in Wokingham

Pont neuf
The view of the Pont Neuf in Paris predates the Second World War, and was created by Vashti Marie Vincent. It is up for auction at Martin & Pole in Wokingham on Wednesday, August 5

A CHARMING painting coming up for auction in Wokingham next week has an incredible story behind it.

The view of the Pont Neuf in Paris predates the Second World War, and was created by Vashti Marie Vincent.

The artist, a British subject, was interred by the Nazis during their occupation of France in 1940.

Along with other British passport holding women, she was rounded-up and sent to the notorious Frontstalag 142 camp at Caserne Vauban in Besançon. The camp was cold, squalid and with very little food or sanitation.

Things improved slightly for the artist and her fellow captives after the British Government threatened to move German prisoners to Northern Canada.

In response, the Germans created a new internment camp in the town Vittel, with British prisoners being moved there from May 1941.

Although the conditions were still austere, the new camp comprised disused hotels and park land. This allowed the prisoners the chance to organise theatre shows and other entertainments. The Imperial War Museum has in its collection posters designed by Vincent for these performances. The collection also includes paintings by Vincent depicting the camps at Besançon and Vittel.

The museum records Vincent returning to Britain via Sweden and the Shetland Islands with the help of the Red Cross.

Vincent’s works in Vittel were dated 1942 and 1943 and, although the camp was liberated in 1944, some prisoners were exchanged for German prisoners throughout the war. It is interesting to consider that Vincent may have been involved in one of these exchanges.

On her return to Britain she settled in Leeds, but subsequently moved to Maidenhead, where
the present painting was given to the vendor’s mother by the artist.

There is no indication of how Vincent had her painting returned to her after internment.

The family have now decided to sell the picture and it will be up for auction on Wednesday, August 5, with Wokingham-based Martin & Pole. It has a suggested an estimate of £400 to £600.

Auctioneer Matthew Coles said: “Sometimes the value of an item is more about the history surrounding it, rather than the item itself.

“The painting is well executed and will be attractive on any wall, but the story of what was to happen to the artist is compelling and should create considerably more interest.”

Also in the auction are items belonging to the late Arthur Lees, formerly the golf professional at Sunningdale Golf Club from 1949 to 1977. He was selected four times for the Great Britain Ryder Cup team from 1947 to 1955.

Items being sold include silverware and a Jaeger LeCoutre Atmos clock (estimated at £300 to £500) given to Arthur Lees by members of the Sunningdale Golf Club.

Owing to the current Covid-19 restrictions, viewing of auctions at Martin & Pole are currently by appointment only.

For more details, log on to www.martinpole.co.uk/antique-auctions

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