“They look quite typical of an aspiring student hoping to get into art school – tentative and not very certain about his perspective when he’s using pencil and pen, making basic errors by getting the top and the bottom of a candlestick wrong in relation to each other and so on.
“And he doesn’t yet have much in the way of technical skill, but it’s not so bad that one can’t imagine him learning – especially when he’s bolder with the charcoal or black chalk.
“But there’s no latent genius here, and not much beyond a moderate GCSE. Probably if the artist was at school today you wouldn’t encourage him to keep the subject up at A Level.
“So if they are part of a portfolio submitted with an application to study at a major European art academy, the selectors were right to reject him – they just don’t suggest he was more than pretty marginal and mediocre for a potential art school entrant then or now.
“If they are what he sent in he definitely wouldn’t have been worth interviewing for a place.
“Now, of course, they have an altogether different historical interest for us, but sadly that isn’t one that has anything to do with art.”