A number of oil paintings by Sir Kyffin Williams (1918-2006) gave a major fillip to Rogers Jones’ first sale in their new Cardiff saleroom. The results included the highest price ever seen for one of his works sold at auction.
The view of a coastal farm near Aberffraw on
the Isle of Anglesey came from a vendor who had purchased it from
the Albany Gallery in 1997. Although a trademark picture in terms
of its style, there were a number of key elements which combined to
help it reach these unprecedented levels.
Firstly, there were practical reasons - it
was a signed work with a solid gallery provenance and, being a 23in
x 2ft 11in (59 x 90cm) oil on canvas, it was a good 'manageable'
Secondly, there were painterly features - it
was a simple composition with thickly applied impasto in an austere
palette which, unlike with followers of many other artists,
collectors prefer with Sir Kyffin's work.
Thirdly, there was the particular subject
matter here. The cottage depicted was a known landmark not far from
the artist's home on the island. Furthermore, the fact that there
was snow on the ground, the sun setting over the Irish Sea and a
standing pony in the foreground gave it special appeal beyond more
standard works by the Welsh palette-knife wizard.
The estimate was set at £45,000-50,000 for
the sale on July 6, which was pretty punchy in light of the fact
that the previous saleroom high for Sir Kyffin was the £48,000 seen
back in 2005 for Bryn y'r Hên Bobl sold at Christie's
However, the auctioneers reported additional
interest from new clients at their inaugural Cardiff event and,
with regular buyers from North Wales travelling down to bid, it was
eventually knocked down on top estimate to a private collector who
left a commission bid.
The £50,000 price was also a new house
record for Rogers Jones.
At the same sale, another oil painting by
Sir Kyffin sold for £30,000. The unsigned picture showed two
farmers leading their ponies through a landscape in the shadow of
the Moelwyns mountains in Snowdonia.
A larger 2ft 6in x 5ft (75cm x 1.5m) oil on
canvas, it came from the estate of the late Sir Michael Osmond
Williams of Gwynedd, a neighbour and friend of the artist, who died
last year aged 98. He had purchased it directly from Williams
shortly after it was painted in the late 1950s.
Estimated at £30,000-40,000, it was knocked
down on low estimate to a UK dealer.
Incidentally, other contents from Sir
Osmond's home were sold by Rogers Jones in their June 29 sale.
Among them was a fine 17th century William
and Mary oyster veneered kingwood cabinet-on-chest which sold for
Overall, the sale in Cardiff raised £245,000
with 75% of the 303 lots sold.
The buyer's premium was 20%.