The runaway star at the June 26 auction in West Norwood was a modernist landscape by leading Dutch painter Leo Gestel (1881- 1941). Gezicht op een baai, Mallorca, a 2ft 5in x 3ft (74 x 91cm) oil on canvas, was created in 1914 when Gestel went to the Spanish island with his wife and the artists Else Berg and Mommie Schwarz to paint en plein air.
Here he produced colourful landscapes, which played simultaneously with reality and abstraction.
The painting’s provenance was traced to its original owner, the pioneering Dutch plastic surgeon Dr JFS Esser. He was an early admirer of the Impressionist-inspired Luminism of young artists such as Gestel, Piet Mondrian and Piet van Der Hem.
The picture later entered the collection of the artist’s wife. It is presumed to have been bought by the artist in 1919 when a large portion of Esser’s collection was sold.
Offered from a private collection in London, it sold to a private collector in the room for £88,000, over four times the top guide, after several minutes’ bidding via the phones, internet and in the room.
While Gestel’s Mallorca canvases tend to fetch good prices when they crop up at auction (the most expensive to date is €190,000, or £130,140, at Sotheby’s Amsterdam in 2006), it transpired that this example was especially desirable as one of few depicting both the hills and the bay within the same image.
Calder nails it
Another top-seller at Roseberys was Alexander Calder’s (1898-1976)Blue and Red Nails, a vast 5ft 3in x 7ft 6in (1.6 x 2.3m) handwoven wool tapestry from his collaboration with the Aubusson weavers, Ateliers Pinton.
It drew phone and internet bids before selling to an international bidder at £35,000, more than double the top guide.
In the 1960s, Calder aligned himself with important French weavers, most notably Pinton, which recreated his designs in fine art tapestry.
Generally speaking, basic considerations such as size, quality and condition determine the price of Calder’s Aubusson tapestries, regarded as among his most sought-after textiles.
One of Fausto Pirandello’s (1899-1975) brutal and disturbing depictions of the female nude proved to be another highlight at Roseberys.
Nudo Lunatico (Moody Nude) from 1954, a signed 3ft 4in x 2ft 4in (1.02m x 70cm) oil on cardboard, belonged to his later nudes. These became increasingly angular, often showing women on their backs, their legs crossed, or sitting on a stool, with skin marked by bruises and cuts.
With Italian trade labels to the verso, it tipped above estimate to sell for £8800. The auction house said it drew bids from the phone and internet, with Continental, American, UK and Asian interest.