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
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
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.