The 100-lot collection was assembled by the late Leonard Manasseh (1916-2017), one of Britain’s leading architects of the 20th century who rose to prominence at The Festival of Britain in 1951.
An artist himself, Manasseh was a fervent patron of the arts. His collection majored on works on paper by artists such as Elisabeth Frink, Elizabeth Blackadder, John Nash and Bernard Dunstan among others.
“The collection was viewed extensively in the lead-up to the sale and there was fierce bidding on the day from both private buyers and the trade, in the room, on the phones and on the internet,” said Francesca Argyle of Bellmans.
The top-seller was Warrior Head, a 2ft 6in x 22in (76 x 56cm) pencil watercolour by Elisabeth Frink (1930-93) dated 1967 and with a gallery label for the New Grafton Gallery in London. Forming part of Frink’s well-known series of male heads symbolising masculine power, the piece improved upon its £4000-6000 guide to sell for £8800. A comparable work from 1963 sold for a premium-inclusive £7500 at Christie’s South Kensington in July 2008.
Manasseh had acquired three works on paper by John Nash (1893-1977), also bearing labels to the New Grafton Gallery.
The pick of them was The Quarry, c.1928, 9 x 11½in (23 x 29.5cm) watercolour and pencil last exhibited in 2002.
As Nash’s biographer, Ronald Blythe, observed: “Nash liked the marks on the countryside made by farming and other rural industries, especially such features as ponds, cuttings, and quarries, and as the years passed his work became an unconscious, or unplanned, record of the agricultural depression, and its recovery.”
The Quarry was knocked down at £1600 against a £700-1000 guide.