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
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
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
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