‘One that got away.’ Thomas Baker’s sketch of Warwick viewed from Wedgnock Park Farm 1864

This week, thanks to Birmingham Museums Archive who have completed their photography, Dad has now uploaded the whole of Thomas Baker’s diaries to his searchable Baker catalogue raisonné thomasbakerofleamington.com.

It’s been an exciting process, during which a lot of new Bakers have come to light, and several collectors have invited Dad to view paintings whose whereabouts were previously unrecorded. There’s been a particular explosion in the number of known watercolours and drawings. New examples on the site show Baker’s strength in this area.

A few months ago, one came up in Antibes, at Carvajal, this signed watercolour sketch of Warwick, (172 x 250 mm) with the tower of St Mary’s just visible above the horizon. It was catalogued as Thomas Barker – Baker is occasionally mistaken for one of the Barkers of Bath – and estimated at 40 – 60 Euros.

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(c) Carvajal.

With googlemap we were able to pin down the area Baker drew it from to Wedgnock, and Dad found it in the Diary. It is a previously-unknown study for a lost oil on panel, no.886.

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Typically, Baker records the composition in a thumbnail, gives the date of the picture, and adds a detail about the medium, in this case the use of copal and turpentine in the varnishing. This was one of Baker’s last paintings. He died aged 55 in 1864, and his diary ends in July that year.

The little sketch was unsold at auction, and having identified the scene we tried an aftersale, but, perhaps due to my strange and archaic French, the vendor didn’t respond to our bottom-estimate offer. Perhaps it will turn up again one day, but, even if it never does, at least it’s now been identified and published, and another of Baker’s lost works has been rediscovered.

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