An auction record was set at Christie’s last week when Sir Stanley Spencer's (1891-1959) 'Christ Preaching at Cookham Regatta: Conversation Between Punts' sold at £5.3m.
Setting a new benchmark of an individual lot the Modern British
art sales category, the 1955 oil on canvas outsold both
Sunflower and Dog Worship from 1937 that took £4.8m at
Sotheby's sale of the Evill/Frost
collection in June 2011, the previous high for Spencer, and LS
Lowry's The Football Match
Circus which both sold for £5m at Christie's in 2011 and
had formerly held the Mod Brit record.
Interestingly, a symbol in the catalogue identified the work as
being subject to a third party guarantee, something not often seen
in this sector. The buyer was an anonymous telephone bidder.
The work itself came from a British collection and was part of
Spencer's celebrated series painted which explored the idea of
Christ's presence in his home town of Cookham, Berkshire. Regarded
as the most important in the artist's career and the one he was
working on towards the end of his life, the 3ft 6in x 3ft (1.07m x
92cm) oil on canvas drew three bidders against a £3-5m
The sale also set records for John Piper and Ivon Hitchens,
while Lowry's Bolton Landscape saw a prolonged
bidding competition against a £250,000-350,000 pitch and was
eventually knocked down to a UK private buyer on the phone at