Offered at a stand-alone sale on February 7, the 190 lots were nearly 95% sold.
Harley, who died in 2016, started his dealing career by taking a stand on Portobello Road before later opening the South London Antiques Centre as well as another shop in Dulwich. After moving to Wiltshire in 1977 and converting a stable block into nine extensive showrooms, he continued to trade in a number of areas although never in pictures which he acquired for personal enjoyment.
Furniture and works of art from his collection will be offered at Woolley & Wallis on April 11, but here we pick out five works that drew demand at last week’s auction.
1. Appetite continues for William Scott
Leading the sale of the late antiques dealer Geoffrey Harley was Fish on a plate by William Scott (1913-89) that sold for £102,000 against a £50,000-70,000 estimate. Dating from 1983, the 2ft 1in x 2ft 6in (63 x 76cm) signed oil on canvas was purchased on one of Harley’s frequent buying trips to Bath, in this case from the Beaux Arts gallery in 1986. Scott has been an artist bringing interest at a number of regional sales in the last year, and decent bidding duly emerged again here.
2. Michael Ayrton’s Icarus
Michael Ayrton (1921-75) is another artist who has brought demand both in London and in the provinces lately. The Geoffrey Harley sale at Woolley & Wallis offered three works by the artist, two sculptures and one painting. The most sought after of the three was Icarus rising III, a 3ft 4in (1.02m) high bronze from an edition of nine. Estimated at £15,000-20,000, it sold at £38,000.
3. Patrick Heron abstract
Drawing strong interest against an attractive pitch, this abstract painting by Patrick Heron (1920-99) titled Sixteen by 20: September 1975 exceeded a £15,000-20,000 estimate and was knocked down at £55,000. The 16 x 20in (41 x 51cm) signed oil on canvas had provenance to the Beaux Arts Gallery in London.
4. Lynn Chadwick’s cloaked figure
A small but trademark sculpture by Lynn Chadwick (1914-2003) was another three-dimensional artwork in the Geoffrey Harley collection that sparked bidding. Cloaked figure was a bronze and brass cast from an edition of eight which was stamped with the artist's monogram. Measuring 10.25in (26cm) high, it was estimated at £10,000-15,000 and was taken to a final £24,000 hammer price.
5. Elisabeth Frink’s horse
Horses were a favourite subject of Dame Elisabeth Frink (1930-93) both for her sculptures and works on paper. Three watercolours of equine subjects by the artist featured in the Geoffrey Harley collection, raising a combined £24,200. The group was led by an example from 1977 simply titled The Horse. Measuring 22.5in x 2ft 7in (57 x 79cm), it was signed and dated and estimated at £8000-12,000. One the day, it was knocked down at £11,000.