Shown here are two pictures – one by Morris, another by Eric Ravilious (1903-42) – both from 1933.
The 22in x 2ft 3in (56 x 69cm) oil titled Drought, Oxfordshire by Morris offered by Sworders on October 22 had been a gift from the artist to the vendor. It depicts a farmstead in the chalk hills of the Chiltern – the shades of brown and yellow punctuated by the red tiles of a roof and a whitewashed wall.
Although Morris’ early flower pictures have been achieving the highest prices at recent auctions, Sworders’ chairman Guy Schooling noted the price rise in his landscapes too. This picture, estimated at £10,000-15,000, sold at £50,000 (plus 25% buyer’s premium) to a leading London dealer.
Ravilious’ depiction of the events of 1933 includes elements of the growing industrialisation in the countryside. Machinery dominates the skyline with a lone farmhand lugging the two buckets back to feed the engine. Areas of the paper are left bare to enhance the effect of the cracking earth.
Signed and dated Sept ‘33 and measuring 12 x 18in (30 x 46cm), this was one of two works by Ravilious offered at Bellmans (22% buyer’s premium) in Wisborough Green, West Sussex, as part of a Fine Paintings sale on October 15. Both come from a local private collection and had a relatively recent saleroom history.
Drought was sold by Sotheby’s in November 2015 on behalf of an owner whose parents had bought it at the first exhibition the artist held at the Zwemmer Gallery in London in November-December 1933. It was among the 20 of 36 pictures – many painted while Ravilious was staying with Edward Bawden at Great Bardfield – that sold at the exhibition.
Four years ago it had made £35,000 (£43,750 including premium) but the auction house was hoping the added zip to the Ravilious market since then would produce a price of £50,000-70,000. In fact, a deal was struck just after the sale with a private collector at £40,000.
The same buyer tendered a post-sale bid of £60,000 (estimate £80,000-120,000) for a second wartime work.
Aerodrome, larger at 18 x 22in (45 x 55cm), depicts stationary British aircraft in a rural airfield – perhaps RAF Debden or Sawbridgeworth, close to the artist’s home in Shalford, Essex, probably painted c.1941 (Ravilious died on active service the following year while flying off Iceland).
It was last sold in 2006 as part of the collection of Peter Nahum at Christie’s South Kensington when it took £48,000 (£57,600 including premium).