“THE high point of my career,” was how auctioneer John Anderson described his most recent sale. He had waited 30 years but finally got the chance to offer the Lionel Jacobson collection at Anderson & Garland on March 11-13.
He first saw the collection as a young trainee valuer in 1978 when carrying out a probate valuation in the Gosforth area of Newcastle. It had been formed by the tailoring entrepreneur Lionel Jacobson, who was the leading collector of modern and contemporary art in the North East in the 1960s.
The 147 picture lots from the collection realised £664,000 on the first day of the sale, which generated the highest total the auctioneers had ever made in a single session.
A significant part of that figure came from four paintings by David Bomberg (1890-1957) that drew strong interest from the London trade.
This included Zahara, Andalusia, one of the Spanish landscapes which are the most sought after of his oeuvre. It probably dates from Bomberg's second stay in Spain, 1934-35.
The Jacobson collection had attractive "here to be sold" estimates and bidding on this lot started at £20,000. It rose in increments of £1000 and took over ten minutes to sell before it was finally knocked down to a London trade buyer on the phone at £145,000.
A self portrait from 1932 made slightly more, selling to a different London dealer at £147,000. This work saw bidding from a public institution up to £85,000, but afterwards it came down to a battle between three London galleries.
The 22 3/4 x 19in (58 x 48cm) oil on panel was in fact a double-sided work with another portrait on the back, thought to be either a second self portrait or a picture of Bomberg's wife Lilian.The other two Bombergs were The Bomb Store from 1942 which again sold to a different London dealer at £53,000 but was underbid by a private collector from Hale in Cheshire, and Hampstead Heath from 1953, which the Hale collector managed to buy at £58,000.
L.S. Lowry's (1887-1976) Boat at Sea made £111,000. Lionel Jacobson bought it from The Stone Gallery in Newcastle in 1967 and was introduced to the artist by Tilly Marshall who ran the gallery. The 15 1/2 x 22 1/2in (40 x 57cm) oil on board was one of a number that Lowry painted during his stays at Seaburn near Sunderland. Although Sunderland Museum expressed an interest, it sold to the same London trade buyer who had purchased the Bomberg self portrait.
Also sold to a London dealer from the collection, was a bronze by Henry Moore (1898-1986) Helmet Head No. 3 that made £78,000. The 11 3/4in (29cm) high work was from an edition of 14.
The Jacobson collection also included furniture, china and glass that was offered on the subsequent days of the sale. The three-day, multi-vendor sale achieved £1.07m, the highest total ever for Anderson & Garland.
John Anderson said the auctioneers celebrated with champagne.
By Alex Capon
Antiques Trade Gazette is the weekly bible of the fine art and antiques industry. Read articles like this every week in the Antiques Trade Gazette or ATG app. Click here to subscribe today.