They came from the collection of Gigi Richter (1922-2020), described by the auction house as “the doyenne of picture restorers throughout the 1940s and 1950s” who worked with many leading artists of the period and who became close friends.
While the letters from artists such as Henry Moore and Augustus John were grouped into five lots at the September 17 sale, three of which sold for a combined £600, the best action came among the four drawings and watercolours.
Two were by Stanley William Hayter (1901-88), an important figure in the British Surrealist movement in the 1930-40s, who then gravitated more towards Abstract Expressionism after the Second World War.
Both small pictures given to Richter as gifts from the artist, one of the works at Cheffins was titled Abstract composition and was described in the catalogue as “characteristic of Hayter’s energetic and idiosyncratic style”.
Dating from 1944 and signed by the artist, the 7 x 9½in (18 x 25cm) pen, ink and watercolour on card appears in the background of a photograph of Gigi Richter at No 7, Mall Studio, Hampstead, which she rented from Henry Moore during 1946-47.
While prints by Hayter appear regularly at auction, a watercolour like this is a rarer sight, especially at a regional sale.
At the Cambridge sale it attracted strong interest against an appealing £400-600 estimate and sold for £3000 on thesaleroom.com.
The other work by Hayter was a greeting card for 1946-47 which featured an engraving by the artist as well as his signature in pencil. The artist produced such cards in small runs to commemorate each year from 1931 onwards and they were sent to close family and friends. This one made a mid-estimate £420 from an online bidder.
Overall, the Richter consignment raised a hammer total of £32,000 and was led by Carte des vents, a signed sketch from 1946 by Cuban Painter Wilfredo Lam (1902-82) that overshot a £6000- 8000 guide and was knocked down at £22,000 (pictured in Bid Barometer, ATG No 2461).