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He rubbed shoulders with Peter Blake and his best man was John Bratby, but few will have heard of the artist Richard Platt (1928-2013).

In fact, put his name into Google or any art price database and there will be few, if any, returns.

That could be about to change, however, after his works were included at a Penzance auction.

On July 27, David Lay (18% buyer’s premium) offered some 40 of Platt’s oils and lithographs from the 1950s.

Consigned by his widow with a handful of art Platt collected, all bar one picture sold (a sketchy monochrome oil by Blake at £5000- 8000 was the only failure). The Platt works made a total of £23,628 – well above expectations. The retro 1950s appeal of his work chimed well with current Mod Brit tastes.

Platt was the son of JG Platt, an equally obscure but well-connected artist who had been at the Royal College of Art in 1920 with Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth.

Platt Jr followed in his footsteps, attending the college from 1950-53.

“The retro 1950s appeal chimed well with current Mod Brit tastes

After he left, Platt exhibited at the Leicester Galleries in London and became the principal of Hornsey School of Art, a former college in Crouch End. He moved to Cornwall in 1962, where he remained for the rest of his life.

“Platt’s work has that sophisticated feel, very much in the style of the Kitchen Sink and Euston Road schools,” said auctioneer David Lay.

According to Platt’s widow, Diane Ibbotson, the artist had sold some 100 or so pieces in the 1950s, and the group offered here was his residual stock.

Buyers competed mainly online for the collection, making it difficult for Lay to decipher where the interest came from, but he suspected many of the bidders were dealers.

Eight oils were included in the sale, with the top single seller an undated 2ft 2in x 2ft 8in (66 x 81cm) oil on canvas called Pigeon Loft of Lowestoft. Depicting a suited man by a pigeon house with vibrant green slats, it was taken well above the £100-200 guide to sell for £3700 to a bidder on thesaleroom.com.

Another eagerly contested oil was Sulphur Mine, a 2ft x 3ft (60 x 92cm) work showing five men in flat caps working machinery against a bright yellow backdrop. It was pursued to £2900 against a £200-300 guide.

Eclectic lithographs


A 22 x 15in (57 x 38cm) three-colour lithograph of a man stirring a pot of lobsters sold for £680 against a £100-150 guide

Platt’s lithographs made up the largest portion of the group, depicting both the everyday and the frivolous.

Two different compositions of the same scene – boiling lobsters – proved most popular. Dated c.1953, they each sold against a £100-150 guide at £650 and £680 respectively.

The latter is a 22 x 15in (57 x 38cm) three-colour lithograph of a man in a flat cap stirring a steaming pot of pink lobsters.