Peter Rose Pulham surrealist painting

Mirror and Mantlepiece by Peter Rose Pulham, a record £18,000 at Anderson & Garland.

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Most prominently, an auction record was set when one of the London-born artist’s striking compositions appeared at Anderson & Garland’s latest Modern Art & Design auction.

Titled Mirror and Mantlepiece, it came to the Newcastle saleroom from the collection of Willie and Anne Charlton who purchased the 2ft 5in x 3ft (73 x 92cm) signed oil on canvas in Glasgow sometime in the early 1960s, not long after their wedding. The Charltons were both good amateur artists themselves and were also keen collectors of LS Lowry and John Atkinson Grimshaw, and friends with artists Kenneth Rowntree and Andrew Festing.

Historically, the family moved in many artistic circles in the 1930s with the couple remembering a close friendship with English writer and philosopher Aldous Huxley.

Pulham, who trained as an architect but became a photographer for Harper’s Bazaar, was initially better known for his photos of artists such as Pablo Picasso and surrealists like Max Ernst. But he began to produce his own surrealist-style works in the late 1930s and went on to exhibit at the Redfern Gallery, the Hanover Gallery and the London Gallery.

The critic and writer George Melly believed Pulham would have become an important name in 20th century art had he not died at a relatively young age.

Today examples of Pulham's work can be found in public collections such as the National Galleries of Scotland and the Tate. His pictures however remain fairly elusive on the market, in part due to the fact that his studio in Chelsea was hit by a bomb in 1941 that destroyed many of his pictures up to that point.

In November last year however, an intriguing composition titled The Conjuror’s Table emerged at Roseberys in south London and made the second-highest auction price for Pulham when it sold well above estimate at £9000.

Here, Mirror and Mantlepiece was estimated at £5000-7000 at the Newcastle auction on May 23. It also duly command a long bidding battle, eventually selling at £18,000 to a member of the London trade.

The price was a significant new high for the artist, surpassing the £10,000 for the larger painting Grisaille Figures I from 1947 that sold at Christie’s in 2016.