Flight Of Fancy

Flight Of Fancy

Sporting Art specialist Jane Oakley takes a closer look at a private collection of ornithological art ahead of our 6 June Sporting Art, Wildlife & Dogs Sale. 

12 May 2023

A private collection is always a joy for the auctioneer to discover – assembled by a single owner, they can often surprise, bringing together unique and contrasting objects that seem to have no place together, yet seem to suit each other within the collector’s home. Bound together by an interest in animals, the present collection, from a local 16 century cottage includes a number of works by the sculptor Guy Taplin (b.1939), along with works by the ornithological painter Richard Barrett Talbot-Kelly (1896-1971) and some impressive taxidermy specimens.

Guy Taplin (b.1939) Curlews, a pair (£2,000-3,000)

Guy Taplin (b.1939) Curlews, a pair (£2,000-3,000)

I have long been an admirer and also collector of Guy Taplin’s work. For the past 50 years Guy has been making unique sculptures of animals – mainly birds – in wood and bronze. His love of birds and wildlife began when he was employed as keeper of waterfowl in Regent’s Park in the 1960s. Inspired by American folk art’s decoy ducks, he began whittling small sculptures of the birds with wood he found, creating distinctive sculptures which he finished with gesso and paint. There is something absolutely charming about his bird sculptures and I love the fact they are made from driftwood. Lots of people have tried to imitate his style, however, the way he uses the wood and the effect he creates – partly rustic, yet effortlessly graceful is totally unique. When he settled in Wivenhoe, on the Essex coast, he began to comb the beaches for inspiration, wood and found objects which he incorporated into his works. He focused on the shore birds and waders that populated the coast – curlews, sanderlings, lapwings and oystercatchers, capturing and exaggerating their features and creating the distinctive long beaks and tails.

Guy Taplin (b.1939) Sandlings, a group (£2,000-£3,000)

Guy Taplin (b.1939) Sandlings, a group (£2,000-£3,000)

Talbot-Kelly came from an artistic background, his father Robert was a successful artist. Richard had a life long interest in birds and was a founding member of the society of wildlife artists. Like Taplin, he loved shore birds and he devoted much of his career into painting ornithological subjects, mainly in watercolour but also in oil. His work is particularly stylish and modern in its feel due to his incorporation of Chinese influence. His works have a graphic feel and he often made use of ink similar to that used in Chinese brush paintings. Our collector amassed a sizable number of works by the artist, including, more unusually, some in oils.

Richard Barrett Talbot Kelly RI (1896-1971) 'The Wounded Heron' (£800-1,200)

Richard Barrett Talbot Kelly RI (1896-1971) 'The Wounded Heron' (£800-1,200)

To view all the lots in this collection click here. 

The full catalogue for our 6 June Sporting Art, Wildlife & Dogs sale is avalible to view here


For any futher informatiom please contact janeoakley@sworder.co.uk 




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