Philip Hermogenes Calderon's Captain of the Eleven sold as top lot in Bonhams' 19th Century Paintings, Drawings and Watercolours sale on July 11, setting a new world record for the artist at auction.
The iconic 1882 work has been reproduced in countless posters, postcards and advertisements throughout the 20th century, having first been published by Pears Soaps in its Christmas annual. A classic depiction of Victorian youth, it has become a much loved symbol of childhood innocence.
Bonhams' Peter Reed commented: "Calderon's painting of a young boy, in his cricket whites, with clear complexion and cherubic face, was the perfect image to represent the Victorian view of children as models of truth and honesty."
The painting was consigned to auction by a Blackpool, UK school where it has hung for the past 86 years, having been donated in 1926 by a local councillor. The decision to sell stems from the need to raise crucial funds for the struggling school, with the work providing a much needed £289,250 ($446,261).
The auction's second highest bids were brought by Archibald Thorburn's Blackcock and Grouse in Flight - an arresting scene of birds in winter - which achieved £193,250. The price represents a huge increase in value from its last sale at Christie's in 1944, where it was sold for 70 guineas (approx. £73.50).
Another strong seller at the sale was Richard Dadd's Portrait of Mr George Bailey, which was created during his time in Bethlem asylum. Learn more here.
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