Friday - 19 December 2014

Modern prints take pride of place at sale in Somerset

28 July 2008Written by ATG Reporter

SOME 13 telephone bidders made their presence felt at a recent sale at Lawrences in Crewkerne, Somerset, as they turned out to compete for seven iconic 20th century prints by artists from the Grosvenor School of Art.

The 1930s linocuts drew seven separate parties from North America and Canada as well as strong demand from UK buyers.

Interest in the Grosvenor School has been heightened on the other side of the Atlantic by the recent exhibition of British prints from 1914-1939 held at the Museum of Fine Art in Boston.

Offering the pictures on the final day of a three-day sale on July 4, two of the seven went to overseas buyers, but thanks to significant underbidding as well from across the pond, the seven prints sold for a total of £145,100 against a combined presale estimate of £42,500-63,000.

There were no major condition issues, only a little light damage and foxing on the tissue-thin japan paper.

Six were consigned for sale by a Somerset couple who had owned them for over 50 years and it is believed that the lady's father, who was a solicitor, acquired them from a client in lieu of fees in the early 1950s.

Four of the works were by Sybil Andrews, one was by Cyril Power and another one by Walter Greengrass.

Amongst these were two prints which Lawrences' picture specialist Richard Kay said were deemed as two of "the jewels in the crown" of Grovenor School linocuts. This was Cyril Power's (1874-1951) The Eight and Sybil Andrews' (1898-1992) Speedway which were the two top lots of the sale.

The Eight from 1930 was a study of rowers racing on the Thames under Hammersmith Bridge. Cyril Power was a great enthusiast of the Head of the River Race and lived close by at Brook Green Studios.

Signed, titled and numbered 20/50, the 12 1/2 x 9in (32 x 23cm) print was gummed at the corners onto a support sheet and had retained bright and fresh colours.

Estimated at £10,000-15,000. Drawing multiple phone bidders, it sold at £36,000 to a UK buyer.

A UK buyer also saw off over five overseas telephone bidders to purchase Sybil Andrews' Speedway from 1934 at £32,000.

The Bury St Edmunds born artist moved to Canada in 1947 after marrying shipbuilder and woodworker Walter Morgan and has a particularly strong following across the Atlantic.

The robotic depiction of motorcycle racers is arguably her most sought print and three examples have appeared at Heffel auctioneers in Vancouver over the last three years, the most recent making a premium-inclusive Can$103,500 (£56,465) in May - an auction record for the impression according to online price guide Artnet.

The example at Lawrences, signed, titled and numbered 4/60, was estimated at £12,000-18,000, but with the slight foxing and light staining it made less than the Heffel's price.

Also by Sybil Andrews from the same consignment, Steeplechasing made £21,000, Bringing in the Boat made £19,000, and The Gale made £13,500. The linocut by Walter Greengrass (1896-1970) entitled Rugby made £9600.

From a separate consignment was Sybil Andrews' The Giant Cable from 1931 which made £14,000. It came from a Dorset couple who were apparently unaware of its value and were about to add it their compost heap before they happened to see Lawrence's pre-sale advertisement promoting the Grosvenor school linocuts in the local paper.

It had a minor tears at upper right of the image as well as a few more at the edge of the sheet.

Overall, four of the seven prints went to two different members the trade, with the remaining three bought by two different privates.

The buyer's premium was 17.5 per cent.

A full report of the Lawrences sale will be appearing in next week's printed edition of ATG.

By Alex Capon

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