A Good Child by John Kirby – £6800 at Tennants.

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The February 24 sale in Leyburn, North Yorkshire, was led by Liverpool artist John Kirby (b.1949), whose work A Good Child sold for 10 times the low estimate at £6800.

Often compared with René Magritte and Edward Hopper, Kirby is known for his haunting doll-like or child/adult hybrid figures, which he uses to explore gender, religion, sexuality and race. Several of his works have sold into five figures at auction, but do not appear regularly on the secondary market.

The sale also included a trio of vibrant works by Caribbean contemporary artist Llewellyn Xavier (b.1945).

The top-sellers, purchased directly from the artist, were a vibrant head study of a monkey that sold for four times the top guide at £2400 and a multi-coloured dotted canvas, titled St Lucian Environmental Study, which took £2200 against a £1000-2000 estimate.

Xavier is based on St Lucia and is known for his bold coloured-canvases, focusing on local Caribbean culture and environmental causes.

Tennants broke its own auction record for the late Ilkley artist Marie Walker Last (1917-2017), selling a 1992 work titled Winter Quarry for a multi-estimate £2000, well up on the previous high of £650, according to the Art Sales Index.

In all, the 206-lot sale of Modern and Contemporary art totalled £83,460, 89% sold by lot.

However, the potential top-seller, a Norman Cornish (1919-2014) oil titled Spennymoor Street in 1950, went unsold on a £12,000-18,000 estimate.