Painted by William Ratcliffe (1870- 1955), The Breakfast Table was described by the auction house as a “showcase for the need of a wider appreciation of the talent” of the artist.
A wallpaper designer turned painter, Ratcliffe remained a full-time artist throughout his life, relying on the support of friends and family. With the help of fellow Camden Town Group painter Harold Gilman, Ratcliffe spent time with Walter Sickert painting in Dieppe.
Typical of Ratcliffe’s interiors, the signed 2ft 7in x 2ft 1in (80 x 64 cm) oil on canvas offered at Chiswick focused on the domestic kitchen space and the view behind. Ratcliffe applied the paint in a broken touch – a technique learned from Lucien Pissarro, who moved to London in 1890.
Consigned from a private collection in the UK, it nearly doubled its top estimate to sell for £22,000. According to the Art Sales Index, the sum is close to the joint auction record set 30 years ago when two paintings sold for £25,000 apiece at Christie’s South Kensington and Sotheby’s.
The record for a Camden Town Group picture is held by Gilman’s Interior (Mrs Mounter), which David Bowie acquired in 1994. It was subsequently sold at Sotheby’s dispersal of the late singer’s collection in November 2016 for £485,000 (with fees).
Elsewhere at Chiswick, an early self-portrait painted in 1956 by the figurative artist David Tindle (b.1932) sold at £14,000 – a high sum for one of his pictures at auction. The 18 x 14in (46 x 36cm) oil on canvas was estimated at £2000-4000. It was part of a market-fresh group of three portraits and three landscapes by Tindle consigned from the collection of the English poet and playwright Christopher Fry, the source of the £92,000 John Constable sketches that sold at Chiswick in March (see News, ATG No 2383).
The sale also achieved £40,000 for a signed 11 x 13in (28 x 33cm) pencil drawing of a northern townscape by LS Lowry (1887-1976).
Populated with Lowry’s famous matchstick figures, the small drawing had provenance to the William Weston Gallery in London and carried pre-sale hopes of £40,000-60,000.
The buyers of all three main works mentioned above were UK trade with some of the underbidders being private.