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Stunning watercolor of Sydney Harbour Bridge bought at auction

Now, 90 years after its official opening, the draught has been sold for $33,857 at an auction in Newcastle and has returned down under.



The original builder's draught of the Sydney Harbour bridge, which has sold for £26,000 at auction to the Australian Maritime Museum. (Anderson & Garland via SWNS)

By Ashley Pemberton via SWNS

A stunning watercolor impression of the Sydney Harbour Bridge made by the British company which built it has been bought by the Australian National Maritime Museum at auction.

The original draught was produced for building firm Dorman Long who were contracted to build the iconic structure, which took eight years to build.

Now, 90 years after its official opening, the draught has been sold for £26,000 ($33,857) at an auction in Newcastle and has returned down under.

The breath-taking artists impression was produced by Cyril Arthur Farey - considered Britain’s pre-eminent architectural illustrator at the time - and is signed and dated 1924.

It was inherited by the Cleveland Bridge Engineering Co after a merger with Dorman Long in 1982.

But after the firm entered liquidation, it was bought for £700 ( $911) - and sold for a whopping 37 times that price.

The Sydney Harbour Bridge in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. (SWNS).

Dr. Peter Hobbins, head of knowledge at the Australian National Maritime, said: "This is a beautiful watercolor – everyone who sees it falls in love with it.

"It features the pride of the Royal Australian Navy, HMAS Australia (I), alongside the vigorous movement of commercial shipping.

"The Bridge’s pillars also served as monuments to the fallen of the Great War, and were built from the same sandstone as the Cenotaph in Martin Place.

"Farey clearly understood these powerful ties, especially in the aftermath of Australia’s enormous wartime sacrifice.

"His masterly draught is truly visionary, stretching from the past into the future.

"There are so many aspirations bound up in this luminous watercolor – I can’t wait to see it on our shores and in our galleries.’

Dorman Long, a steel production company based in Middlesbrough, expanded into bridge building in the 1920s.

The draught helped sell their work on the winning design for a bridge to span Sydney Harbour and accurately captures how the bridge would look when it finally opened.

The museum’s head of acquisitions development, Daina Fletcher said: "We are excited to have purchased this significant depiction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge for the Australian National Maritime Museum.

"It is an important maritime work, drawn by one of Britain’s most accomplished architectural artists for bridge engineers Dorman Long at the time the firm was awarded the contract in 1924.

"The exquisite watercolor imagines the bridge, formally opened eight years later in 1932, as an icon of an aspirational future for our nation. Its symbolism and presence resonate today, especially as we mark the Bridge’s 90th year."

Julian Thomson, managing director at auctioneers Anderson & Garland, said: “We’re delighted with this result.

"The presale interest from across the world was phenomenal. Not only is this a visually stunning picture but a unique piece of history too.

"The piece finally sold to a buyer from Australia, which is fantastic, especially as the bridge celebrated its 90th anniversary this month.”

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