Rare SA paintings found in envelope

Four rare South Australian paintings are set to go up for auction after their chance discovery.

A chance find has unearthed four paintings by celebrated 19th century artist Colonel James Hesketh Biggs.

The paintings were found in an unmarked envelope among a vast quantity of books and papers belonging to two Adelaide book sellers.

Arthur Chard died in 2003 but Lex Rabbits is still living in aged care.

Recently Adelaide art dealer Jim Elder was charged with making sense of their collection with a view to making items available to the art market.

It took Mr Elder months to sort through the 18th century tomes documenting the exploits of the great explorers, intriguing old 19th century fashion and style albums, collections of nature artwork, landscape and architectural etchings, old tinted prints and rare books.

Among it all was the plain white envelope which was found to contain the four paintings entitled Off Goose Islands Midnight, Milang, Lucky Point on the Coorong and Dinner, Point Sturt, all featuring scenes in South Australia.

As well as being an army officer, Colonel Biggs was accomplished as an amateur photographer, engraver and lithographer as well as an artist renowned in the 1860s and 70s for his detailed work.

He won innumerable prizes in the 1860s and 70s but most of his works are now lost.

The four works will go up for Auction in Adelaide on October 11 and Mr Elder says it is difficult to estimate how much they will fetch.

"Because of their rarity, their value is incalculable," he said.

"They are true museum pieces.

Source: AAP

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