A BLACKPOOL school has been bowled over after netting an incredible £290,000 funding boost – thanks to this little lad.
Painted in 1882, Philip Calderon’s Captain of the Eleven became world renowned when it featured in a campaign to promote Pear’s soap.
The original picture had been on display at Thames Primary School in South Shore for 86 years after it had been donated by a former governor.
It went on sale yesterday at London auction house Bonhams with experts predicting it could sell for as much as £150,000.
But a bidding frenzy saw the prized artwork smash all expectations out of the ground as it was eventually sold for a cool £289,250.
The money will pay for building repairs and enable valuable investment in the school.
Former chairman of governors Coun Lily Henderson today said she was delighted the sale had attracted such strong interest.
She said: “This painting was such a marvellous gift from this governor.
“No-one knew how much it was worth.
“It is amazing when I think back to all the times I was in the school and saw the picture, and we didn’t know it was worth a lot of money.
“I’m very pleased they will be able to spend the money on some very necessary repairs, although as someone who was a governor for so many years I would like it if they could go to bigger premises.
“It is also very nice that a plaque will remain in the school to commemorate the original donation, and a reproduction will remain.”
Although the final sale price was more than double the pre-sale estimate, auctioneer Peter Reeves of Bonhams said interest had been high.
He said: “It was such a well known image across the world through Pears soap and cricket has such an incredible appeal as does the subject of Victorian childhood.
“It just ticked all those boxes. This is now actually by some distance a world record for Calderon’s work.
“It was bought by a UK buyer – that is really all we can tell you.”
As revealed in The Gazette last month, the painting was donated to Thames Primary School in 1926 by former Coun W.D. Hallstead.
After inclusion in the Pears Annual, published in 1898, the image was reproduced in countless posters, postcards and presentation cricket bats, throughout the 20th Century.
The painting was originally in the collection of A & F Pears.
Pears’ managing director at the time Thomas Barratt, had an eye for spotting marketable works and was instrumental in bringing Calderon’s fresh-faced cricketer to a wider audience.
A reproduction of the painting will hang at the school where the original used to be displayed with a plaque commemorating the gift.
When announcing the sale, headteacher Tracey Harrison told The Gazette: “It was a difficult decision for us to part with the painting but we hope it will provide a wonderful legacy for future Thames children.
“A plaque will be installed to help us remember the kindness of the governor who donated it.”