The RSPB is set to benefit from the auction of fine art by acclaimed wildlife artist Archibald Thorburn at Lewes auction house Gorringes later this month.


The collection, which comprises over 20 sketches and paintings, are from the estate of the late Lord Chelwood, Statesman, and longstanding champion of the Royal Society of the Protection of Birds, which he served as a Trustee for 13 years, and then was elected its President between 1966 and 1970.


Lord Chelwood’s passion for conservation was well documented; as an MP he campaigned for the introduction of the Protection of Birds Act 1954, introduced critical amendments to protect waterfowl from exploitation in 1967, and later was active in debates during the passing of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 whilst serving as a member of the House of Lords. Lord Chelwood was awarded the Society’s gold medal for services to bird conservation in 1984.


Stuart Housden, an RSPB Director, who worked with Lord Chelwood in the 1970’s and 1980’s recalls his impact:

“To me, every time I hear a curlew calling, I am reminded of his courage in challenging his own government, and inspiring a cross-party movement to protect wading birds from hunting. Thanks to him the wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981 offers many species such as curlews, redshanks and godwits full protection.”


Lord Chelwood’s widow and stepson have kindly offered to donate the majority of the proceeds from the sale to the RSPB, to help continue his conservation legacy.


The auction, which takes place on Wednesday 27th September, will feature sketches, watercolours and gouache paintings of varying species including song thrush, snow geese and marsh harrier by celebrated Scottish wildlife artist Archibald Thorburn.


Thorburn is widely thought to be one of the best birdlife artists of all time. As well as writing and illustrating numerous technical ornithological field guides, he also produced the first Christmas card design for the RSPB in 1899, continuing this tradition until his death in 1935. In 1927 he was elected vice president of the RSPB in recognition of his services on behalf of bird preservation.


Donations and legacies are vital to conservation charities such as the RSPB, and this generous and unexpected funding will help the organisation to act quickly to preserve and maintain rare species and habitats, which are becoming increasingly vulnerable as our natural environment changes.


To find out more about the auction and to view the lots visit