Another example by a less familiar name from the Grosvenor era dropped in at Dublin auction house Whyte’s (20% buyer’s premium) on July 6.
William Greengrass (1896-1970) was badly injured in the First World War, losing a leg to gangrene, and post-war became assistant keeper at the Victoria and Albert Museum.
In 1930 he attended Claude Flight’s classes at the Grosvenor school in west London.
The linocut print offered at Whyte’s, Rugby, 1933, was one of several he made in the 1930s. It was a fine example of how this style could vividly portray fast movement – the striped shirts in this case standing out on a flat green pitch.
In colours on Japanese mulberry tissue, the 7¾ x 10½in (19.5 x 26.5cm) print was numbered 24 from an edition of 50 and signed, titled, dated and numbered lower left, with a William Weston Gallery label on the reverse.
Against an estimate of €3000-5000, it sold for €9000 (£8100). Consigned from a private Irish collection, it sold online to the London trade.
Earlier auction outings
Another example of this print, 17/50, sold for a premium-inclusive £6875 at Bonhams in London in December 2014.
In January 2018 a quartet of Greengrass linocuts caught bidders’ eyes at Lawrences of Crewkerne. At the time, Lawrences director Richard Kay said: “There is nothing about his work that is poorly executed, he just doesn’t have that tremendous allure that the higher-ranking names such as Flight, Cyril Power and Sybil Andrews seem to attract.”
Fellow Grosvenor artists were near to the top of that market at the time. One of the Greengrass prints, Seaside Morning, an 8 x 10in (20 x 25cm) work depicting bathers at the seaside, sold for £12,000 to an overseas buyer against a guide of £2500-3500. That result set a new high for the artist at auction, beating Lawrences’ own record of £9600, fetched back in July 2008 – for another example of Rugby.
Other versions can be found in national collections. Number 3/50 is listed in the UK Government Art Collection, noted as ‘Purchased from Christie’s, 26 October 1976’.
Meanwhile, another Rugby print resides in the Auckland Art Gallery. It was one of 311 prints by leading British artists of the time gifted in 1953 by the New Zealand-born director of London’s Redfern Gallery, Rex Nan Kivell. This is listed as 16/30, not 50.