Most fine art sales at Exeter saleroom Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood feature multiple works by the irrepressible Robert Lenkiewicz (1941-2002) and their latest event was no different.
However, with 26 works at their April 29-May 1 auction and only
four of these lots unsold, the £100,000 that they contributed to
the auction total was certainly well above average.
One reason was the 13 lots that came from a notable Cornwall
collection of the Plymouth-based artist's work. This provided a
fillip in gaining further consignments as the auctioneers contacted
potential vendors and gained further pictures for sale which were
entered with less punchy estimates in order to take advantage of
the additional interest.
While prices for the artist dropped dramatically during the
credit crunch and remain a far cry from the levels seen in the
artist's studio sale held at Bearnes in 2004, for example, there is
some sense that the downward trend in the Lenkiewicz market may
have now run its course.
There was better general demand for the offering here although,
even among the works from the core collection that generated the
top prices, selective bidding was still very much in evidence.
The two highest sums came for large figurative paintings which
had been exhibited at The Painter With Women show in
Birmingham in 1994. Both sold under their estimates of
£20,000-30,000, with one taking £19,000 from a private buyer and
the other £16,000 from the trade. These kinds of works were
fetching up to double these sums during the heady days of
From the same Cornwall collection, however, came two rarer
landscapes which were pitched at lower levels but drew greater
competition and sold to separate buyers.
These pictures were part of the body of work the artist produced
while convalescing after heart by-pass surgery at a lakeside
cottage on an estuary in south Devon in 1995. The series of fewer
than 40 works (comparatively small for a Lenkiewicz 'project')
focused on the changing atmospheric conditions as the weather and
tides shifted, but some of the pictures also hint at the presence
of a person who has just walked away from the view as was the case
with the two works here in Exeter.
One was Estuary Study - 8am February, a 3ft 9in x 2ft
2in (1.14 x 65cm) signed oil on canvas which was estimated at
£6000-8000. The misty view across the water had similarities to one
of the artist's best-known prints, Silver Lake. Drawing decent
pre-sale interest, on the day it was knocked down to a top-estimate
The other was the brightly coloured Study of The Hut -
Landscape Series, a 22¾in (58cm) square oil on canvas that
went over its £3000-5000 estimate and sold at £8200. It had
featured in the artist's 1995 Landscape Exhibition.
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