Thursday - 17 April 2014

Gust of Wind helps Spowers to a £94,000 record

23 April 2012Written by Alex Capon

IT was a case of ‘last but not least’ at Bonhams’ latest prints sale in New Bond Street.

The final lot of their inaugural auction dedicated to The Grosvenor School & Avant-Garde British Printmaking on April 17 was the rarely seen impression by Ethel Spowers (1890-1947) entitled The Gust of Wind.

Estimated at £15,000-20,000, the 8½ x 6½in (22 x 16cm) linocut came from an edition of 30 and no copy had been offered at auction for over a decade.

The Melbourne-born artist attended London's Grosvenor School for only a brief period in 1929, but the lessons she received from Claude Flight had a dramatic effect on her work. This 1930-31 print was perhaps not as well-known an image as some of the more iconic Grosvenor School linocuts, but Spowers has now developed a very notable following, which includes collectors in North America and Britain as well as her Australian homeland.

Indeed, she has been receiving ever greater attention with the appearance of four copies of her 1930 print Wet Afternoon at auction in the last two years, including the example at Christie's South Kensington in April 2011 that made £42,000 and set a record for the artist.

Consigned from an Australian source, the impression of The Gust of Wind at Bonhams was in good condition and retained strong colours. It drew interest from multiple bidders before it was knocked down at £94,000 to a buyer described by the auctioneers as an "international private collector".

The price was higher than any previous sum made by a Grosvenor School print at auction, including the £68,000 record for Sybil Andrews' Speedway linocut seen earlier in the sale.

Bonhams also set further records for Claude Flight and Lill Tschudi, while Christopher Nevinson's rare Bomber lithograph sold to London dealers The Fine Art Society at £90,000, the second highest price for a print by the artist sold at auction.

A full report of this sale will appear in a future issue.

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