According to Stephen Sparrow, paintings specialist at Peter Wilson (22% buyer’s premium), it is this broader appeal that has ensured his international reputation has gone “from strength to strength” while also remaining in demand among collectors of Northern art.
Five of Key’s canvases with subjects inspired by the sights and people of his native Salford got away in or around expectations on September 11 at the saleroom in Nantwich, Cheshire. Top-seller at £5500 was a signed 11 x 18in (29 x 46cm) horse-themed oil from 1996, Neck and Neck, which came in one of the artist’s original hand-painted frames. Key’s colourful Cubist style horse-themed paintings are especially desirable among collectors.
“With the work of Key, as with so many Modern British artists, there remains a commercial hierarchy with the imagery of horses and landscapes at the top and still-life paintings and figure groups below,” said Sparrow.
Peter Wilson holds the record for the artist at auction with Seaside Promenade, a large oil from 2001, which took £11,500 in April 2015.