'Penzance, looking down a busy Market Jew Street' by Norman Garstin – £13,000 at David Lay.

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The 2ft 1in x 18½in (64 x 47cm) signed oil on canvas was a busy view of the town and displayed many of the features associated with this Irish artist who was greatly influenced by the Impressionists and James McNeill Whistler.

Garstin was a well-travelled painter, spending periods in Belgium, France, Italy, Spain and Morocco, but Cornish scenes (often painted en plein air) are a significant part of his oeuvre as he later settled in Newlyn. A coastal view of houses and boats for instance can now be found in Penlee House Gallery & Museum.

This was a good example of his work but had previously sold at another southern saleroom in February for £5000. It was quickly flipped and offered with a £10,000-12,000 pitch in Penzance. However, on the day, the lack of market freshness didn’t count against it too strongly and it was knocked down at £13,000 – a decent return on the price paid only four months before.

Aussie in the West Country


'Boats in St Ives Harbour' by Richard Hayley Lever – £4800 at David Lay.

Elsewhere at the sale were two views of the Cornish coast by Richard Hayley Lever (1876-1958) that were consigned by a private collector who was “thinning out” according to the auction house.

Works by the Australian painter who came to England in 1893 emerge fairly regularly on the market and most that appear at UK auctions today are those he made during his spell in St Ives, normally selling in the low thousands. He later went to the US where he taught at the Art Students League in New York, later becoming director of the Studio Art Club in Mount Vernon.

First up at the Penzance auction was Boats in St Ives Harbour, an 18in x 2ft (46 x 61cm) oil on canvas that was the larger and brighter of the two. Estimated at £4000- 6000, it sold for £4800 – an above-average price for the artist.

Next came Fishing Fleet at Sunrise, a 6¼in x 8¾in (16 x 22cm) oil on panel that was estimated at £400-600. It sold at £2200 on, a very credible price per square inch. The auction house said both works generated a good number of requests for condition reports and both are thought to have sold to private clients.