The work was one of over a dozen modestly priced 20th century oils, watercolours, lithographs and drawings by mainly British and American painters from the private collection of the late Brian Hill of Bridlington, East Yorkshire.
The large Grade II-listed theatre, painted by Auerbach repeatedly over many years, features in famous works such as The Camden Theatre (1976) in the British Council collection and Camden Theatre in the Rain (1977), a large-scale oil that sold at Sotheby’s in 2007 for a premium-inclusive £1.92m.
The 10 x 10½in (25 x 27cm) drawing offered in Scarborough had featured in the touring 1977 exhibition Drawing in Action by Ferens Art Gallery in Hull.
It came with provenance for Marlborough Fine Art in London where Hill had bought it. In “very good condition” and in its original frame, the drawing sold to the UK trade for £6000 against a £1000-2000 estimate at the sale on March 6.
It is not the first time such works have been offered. A comparable felt-tip pen sketch of the theatre executed in c.1973 sold at Christie’s in December 1999 for a premium-inclusive £518, a sum that also illustrates the rising auction prices in the intervening decades for Auerbach’s work.
The 287-lot Spring Art Sale was 82% sold by lot and totalled £180,000, that auction’s highest total to date.
Staithes Group work
Among the works depicting local scenes was a 19 x 23in (48 x 59cm) oil on canvas of a woman mending nets at Runswick Bay near Whitby by Staithes Group artist Mark Senior (1862-1927). It tipped over top estimate to sell to a Yorkshire collector on the book for £4600.
After the catalogue had been published, the figure was identified as Mrs Peggy Calvert by her granddaughter, who saw the painting in the local paper and still lives at Runswick Bay.
The picture was bought by the vendor in 1994 at specialist Staithes Group dealer Phillips & Sons in Cookham and came in appealing ‘ready to hang’ condition. “There is still plenty of local interest in the Staithes Group, particularly for oils,” said Duggleby after nearly all 45 lots dedicated to the art colony sold.
The auction was led by Shipping Anchored in the Humber off Spurn Point, a typically serene 19th century coastal oil by the Hull School painter Henry Redmore (1820-87) that sold to a private buyer based in Yorkshire on bottom estimate for £8000.