Demonstrating the benefits that provincial auctioneers continue to derive from the growth in demand for Modern British art, a number of this summer’s sale highlights in the regions were supplied by 20th century pictures.
Among them was a collection of six prints by
CRW Nevinson (1889-1946) which came up at
Dominic Winter last month and, offered separately, provided
over half the total for their latest fine art and antiques
Back in July 2006, the South Cerney saleroom
notably lifted the bar for the artist when they sold another group
of six Nevinson pictures, three of which fetched over £20,000,
including Returning to the trenches from 1916 which
took £38,000 and set the highest price for a print by the artist at
A series of records for Nevinson prints
followed soon after in the London rooms and the current auction
high now stands at £95,000, set at a Sotheby's sale in March
2012 for one of his wartime aviation prints, Banking at
The six etchings at the latest Dominic
Winter sale came from a different source but one that had an
interesting personal connection to the artist. They had been
acquired some time ago by the father of a recently deceased family
member who had been an officer in the Royal Flying Corps during the
First World War. He seems to have got to know Nevinson well and one
of the works came with a handwritten Christmas greeting from the
However, whereas the consignment back in
2006 focused primarily on war subjects, here the prints were all
peacetime scenes of France (five of Paris and one of Dieppe). They
dated from the 1920s and early '30s, although definitive dates for
all bar one of the prints could not be fully established.
In price terms, there remains a sizeable
gulf between Nevinson's wartime imagery and the rest of his oeuvre,
and so, although these were fine impressions in good condition and
relatively rare on the market, they were never likely to reach the
highs of his Vorticist-style prints of military manoeuvres.
However, with little pressure applied to the
estimates, the prints here were all pitched at attractive levels
and duly drew considerable attention. Interest came from a couple
of UK private buyers, the London trade and at least one other
bidder from overseas. In the end, they were all knocked down to an
American collector on the phone.
Drawing the most competition among the six
lots offered on July 17-18 was Pont des Arts, Paris, which
was deemed the most eye-catching image in the collection. A 12¼ x
10in (31 x 25cm) etching with aquatint which was signed in pencil,
it depicted figures with umbrellas crossing the pedestrian bridge
over the Seine which links the Institut de France to the Palais du
It was a clear and crisp image, and few
copies have appeared on the market over the 20 years. Estimated at
£1000-1500, it was knocked down at £15,500.
Three of the other works were also views of
Parisian bridges which had the same estimate: Le Pont Royal,
Paris from 1934 (part of an edition of 40) which took
£8200; La Cité, Paris from c.1930 which took £11,000
(another copy took £9500 at Bonhams in London the day before); and
Le Pont Neuf which fetched £10,000.
Meanwhile, a much smaller etching, Paris
d'autrefois - Roofs of Montmartre, was offered with a lower
pitch of £500-800. Measuring just 3½ x 5½in (9 x 14cm), it came
with the handwritten Christmas message from Nevinson's wife
Kathleen. Separately mounted beneath the printed image, it read:
"Greetings & all good wishes for Christmas & the New Year,
& love from Kathleen".
Whether the added personal attachment made
any difference to the price is unclear, but it was knocked down at
£6000 - a decent sum for a work of this size.
The final print in the consignment was an
attractive etching of boats at Dieppe Harbour. Likely produced at
the same time as another view of the port, entitled
The Balcony, Dieppe that Nevinson made from a
nearby high window in 1929, the 12¾in x 10¼in (33 x 26cm) print
here was in decent condition although there were one or two spots.
Estimated at £700-1000, it took a bid of £6800.
Overall, the Nevinson prints contributed
£57,500 to the sale's overall hammer total of just over £100,000.
On the back of these results, the auctioneers have now received
another print by the artist, the lithograph Reliefs at
Dawn from 1918, which will appear in at their next fine art
sale scheduled for October 2, estimated at £10,000-15,000. The
wartime subject may well yield further benefit here, as may well be
the case when
Sotheby's offer another copy of Banking at 4000
Feet on September 17.
The buyer's premium at Dominic Winter is 19.5%
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