Roseberys London’s latest Modern British & 20th Century Art auction (12th September 2023) featured a wealth of items from a highly diverse range of the Britain’s most important and beloved artists, including Ernest H. Shepard, Robert Colquhoun, Alan Reynolds and Margaret Mellis, alongside historical pieces by European masters such as Claude Venard, Georges Rouault and Armand Guillaumin.
Please find below a selection of notable sales by William Summerfield, Roseberys’ Modern British & 20th Century Art specialist.
‘It was an exciting day of highly competitive bidding, seeing many works soaring over their top estimates. Undeniable highlights were the high prices for Ernest H. Shepard and Robert Colquhoun, but perhaps the most dramatic moments were for works by women artists, including Margaret Mellis, Stella Vine and the group of works by Dame Ethel Walker.’
Three international bidders on the phone and internet fought for this wonderful image of Pooh and Piglet from the 1930s. An international buyer eventually beat the competition for a result of £39,000 premium, demonstrating the enduring appeal of A. A. Milne’s classic tale and Ernest H. Shepard’s iconic illustrations. The work was recently part of the collection of Elaine Moss (1924-2020), a highly important figure in children's books.
Two British phone bidders took their time over this important piece, the work finally selling for £26,000 premium. The work had been in a private collection for many decades and considerable fresh research had revealed its historical importance in the artist’s career.
There was only one bidder for this work, but it was enough to see the work sell for a strong price of £16,900 premium. The work was original sold by The Redfern Gallery, who held the artist’s breakout 1952 exhibition and was more recently in the collection of Robert Devereux, emphasising its important place in British art history.
The sale featured three works by French artist Claude Venard from different collections, which all sold over their estimate; 112 La Mer, c.1959 for £16,900 premium, 113 Nature morte à la lampe, 1961 for £11,050 premium and 111 Chaise, Verre et Crabbe, 1959 for£7,150 premium. The works had various interesting pieces of provenance and there was a large number of bidders on each.
Perhaps the most exciting bidding was for the four lots by Dame Ethel Walker, with 10 Portrait of a lady in front of a piano and 11 Carnations selling for double their top estimates for £13,000 premium and £10,400 premium respectively. At Roseberys we have seen a huge surge in interest in her work over the last year, her works soaring over their estimates, reflecting the renewed interest in this important artist.
This wonderful piece of austere abstraction had multiple bidders, eventually flying over its estimate of £3,500-4,000 to achieve £14,300 premium. Mellis was an important early figure in St. Ives modernism and results for other artists associated with this period were particularly strong.
A surprise end to the day was the sale of this iconic and at-the-time controversial piece by Stella Vine. An internet and phone bidder kept going for several minutes, both desperate to get this piece of recent history. The work eventually sold for £11,700, ten-times its original estimate of £600-900. The work was the focus of much coverage in the press in 2003 for its depiction of Princess Diana.