Friday - 25 July 2014

Edward Burra’s Funfair

22 July 2012Written by Alex Capon

Among the best Modern British pictures offered at Lawrences of Crewkerne on July 6 was Edward Burra’s (1905-76) ‘Funfair’, which was consigned from a good local collection barely 24 hours before the catalogue went to press.

The 23½in x 19in (60 x 49cm) pen-and-black-ink drawing depicted a group of figures queuing at a hot dog stall and enjoying the charms of Coney Island - the New York pleasure beach akin to Blackpool.

Dating from 1928-29, it was an early and rare drawing which appeared to be a fully-conceived work rather than a sketch for a larger watercolour or oil painting. It was thought that Burra produced the work based on illustrations, as it was only in 1933 that he first went to New York and produced his elusive Harlem scenes which are now worth seven figure sums.

This drawing may have lacked the lurid colours of such works, but it had plenty of atmosphere and the interesting array of facial expressions added to its appeal.

It also had a good exhibition history, having appeared at the Tate Gallery's one-man show in 1973 and the Arts Council of Great Britain exhibition in London in 1985.

In generally good condition with only a few minor spots and marks, the £6000-9000 pitch was not deemed excessive and it was taken to £29,000 before it sold to a London dealer.

The price appears to be an auction high for a Burra drawing, according to Artnet, outselling Street Corner, which made £14,000 at Bonhams in London in June 2005.

The buyer's premium 19.5%.

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