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Bellmans pictures auction's perfect finish of the year

Bellmans final picture auction this year took the annual sales total for pictures over the £1.3 million mark (including premium), a first for the regional auction house with picture specialists Julian Dineen and Michael Grist at the helm of the department. The Modern British and 20th Century Art auction on the 15th November 2022 included 24 works from the Cass Collection, which all sold, totalling £70,040 (incl. premium) and saw several highlights making five figure sums throughout the auction.

Apart from offering a selection of paintings, prints and sculpture from the Estate of the late Wilfred and Jeannette Cass, which had been displayed at their stunning Bauhaus-style home, Bellmans was able to include some of the big names of the Modern British art scene with many works from private collections and as a result coming to the market for the first time.

Top lot of the auction was the colour lithograph of Pool Made with Paper and Blue Ink for Book (1980) by David Hockney (British, b. 1937), which is signed, dated and numbered in pencil ‘David Hockney 80 425/1000’ (in lower margin). It was expected to fetch £20,000 - £30,000, but saw lots of interest and the hammer finally went down at £34,000 (£42,976 incl. Buyer's Premium and VAT), selling to London trade on the telephone.

A remarkable and exceptionally rare bronze of a Crouching Fawn by the hugely talented Henri Gaudier-Brzeska (French, 1891-1915) was originally conceived in 1913, but this cast is from circa 1918-1939. The French sculptor, who developed a rough-hewn style of direct carving died at only 23 years of age during the First World War. The bronze was originally the property of Miss Jeanne Courtauld (1909-2003), the niece of Samuel Courtauld, the founder of The Courtauld Institute of Art in London, and estimated at £8,000 - £12,000, but it sold for over double its high estimate at £26,000 (£32,864).

Carrying the same estimate, an unglazed earthenware sculpture of a Footballeur (1965) by Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973) numbered '23/50' also sold for £26,000 (£32,864).

Bellmans was pleased to be able to offer several works by the recently deceased Ken Howard (British, 1932-2022). The top lot closely missed the record for Ken Howard (currently at £26,000) when it sold for £22,000 (£27,808). The impressive oil on canvas, Rain Effect, London, is 152.5 x 183 cm and was acquired directly from the artist by the present owner in 2006 after it had been exhibited at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition.

A fine example of the work of one of the most loved Modern British women artists, a stunning oil on canvas by Mary Fedden (British, 1915-2012) of Victoria, Gozo from 1963 was estimated at £3,000 - £5,000, but saw competitive bidding and sold for £20,000 (£25,280) to a Maltese private buyer, so this may indeed return to its origin. It had been bought at the Bear Lane Gallery in 1964.

A painting of Arum Lilies by Irma Stern (South African, 1894-1966) had been in the private collection of Sir William Clark, who was the British High Commissioner to South Africa and officially opened her exhibition in 1938, where he bought the painting. It sold for just under low estimate at £18,000 (£22,752) to a private collector.

The auction almost reached 'white glove' status as it sold exceptionally well throughout. Other artists who did particularly well were John Piper, who had several works included and Bridget Riley's two screenprints were the most watched online and both sold for more than five times their low estimates for £4,200 (£5,308) and £4,500 (£5,688) respectively. Patrick Procktor (British, 1936-2003) did well as did a collage by Norman Reid (British, 1915-2007) gifted to Barbara Hepworth in 1964. Lesser known international artists also achieved higher than expected prices throughout the auction.

Julian Dineen said: "We are delighted to finish the year with our highest total for a picture sale to date and look forward to building on this success in 2023.”

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  • Pool Made with Paper and Blue Ink for Book (1980) von David Hockney
    Pool Made with Paper and Blue Ink for Book (1980) von David Hockney
    Bellmans Auctioneers