An instantly recognisable William Russell Flint (1880-1969) watercolour drew a strenuous competition at Mallams in Oxford last week.
The Silver Mirror was a relatively late work from c.1958 and featured some of the Spanish dancers who modelled in many of artist's works of the period.
Measuring 10½ x 17¾in (26.5 x 45cm), it came from a private vendor but had a label on the verso from Frost and Reed. Indeed, this picture was later published as a limited edition print by the London dealers in the early 1960s and nowadays examples appear fairly often at auction, typically selling for a few hundred pounds.
The original signed watercolour and gouache at Mallams, however, was an entirely different commercial prospect. Estimated at £30,000-50,000 for the sale on May 21, it drew interest from a number of parties, including commission and online bidders who took it up to £60,000, before it came down to a battle between a bidder on the phone and another in the room. lt was eventually knocked down to the latter at £81,000.
That sum was one of the highest prices ever seen for the artist at an auction outside London and continued the recent run of eyecatching pictures by Russell Flint offered at sales across the country.
Most notably, these included the 21-lot single-owner collection sold at Lyon & Turnbull in Edinburgh on April 30, which generated a premium-inclusive total of £361,000 and saw five pictures sell to pharmaceuticals entrepreneur and Polo club owner Dallas Burston.
The buyer's premium at Mallams was 20%.