SINCE the 1920s, Shell have commissioned paintings from key British artists for Shell county guides, calendars and school wall charts. In order to raise funds to create a new exhibition space in the National Motor Museum in Beaulieu for the earlier works from the company’s collection, Shell decided to sell 193 lots dating from 1950-1990, most of which had never been seen in public before, at Sotheby’s Olympia (17.5% buyer’s premium) on July 4.
“This was a very different sale from our afternoon sale of Modern British pictures so there was no clash of
interests,” explained specialist Freya Mitton. Where the bulk of buyers in the afternoon sale were trade, the Shell pictures attracted lots of private buyers.
“Most of the pictures were
topographical views of Great Britain and Northern Ireland,” explained
Ms Mitton. “Private people from those respective areas were competing against other private buyers who
were buying out of nostalgia – they remembered the pictures from the original 1950s and ’60s ad
campaigns”, she said.
The sale saw new auction records for Rowland and Edith Hilder (1905-1993) John Leigh Pemberton (1911-) and Stanley Roy Badmin (1906-1989).
Along with Tristram Hillier’s (1905-1983) Fossils (February), the record breaking Badmin Trees and Shrubs (February) shown left topped the sale.
Against a £4000-6000 estimate
the 121/2in by 16in (32 x 41cm) ink, gouache and watercolour went to the London trade at £12,000.
As with all the pictures Hillier’s Fossils February was in “exceptional” condition bar some small areas of craquelure.
Measuring 14 by 18in (35.5 x 45.5cm) the 1957 oil on canvas went to a British public institution at the top estimate £12,000.