One of the most notable lots came at the three-day spring fine art sale at Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood (23% buyer’s premium) in Exeter where a small boat picture by Alfred Wallis (1855-1942) was on offer.
Depicting a three-masted schooner anchored off a lighthouse, the 8 x 8¾in (20.5 x 22.5cm) oil and pencil drawing on card was a highly typical work.
It came to auction with excellent provenance. The drawing had been acquired by Jim Ede, founder of the Kettle’s Yard house museum in Cambridge, directly from the artist. It had been given to Ede’s nephew as a wedding present and came to auction from a family descendant.
Estimated at £8000-12,000 at the auction on April 14-16, it more than doubled predicted levels after drawing interest from both local bidders and those from further afield. It was knocked down at £27,000 to the London trade.
Interestingly this sale in Exeter followed a collection of 36 Modern British works that were consigned to Cambridge saleroom Cheffins (24.5% buyer’s premium) by Kettle’s Yard itself.
Offered back on February 25, they were part of a larger group of works left to the museum by Ede’s lifelong friend, the late architect John Ady, on the understanding that any pictures the museum chose not to acquire from the bequest would be sold to raise funds.
The lots included a record for Abstract painter John Blackburn (b.1932) when two pictures sold for £7500 apiece.
From the artist’s window
Elsewhere, decent bidding came for a view of St Ives by Bryan Pearce (1929-2006) offered at Chorley’s (22.5% buyer’s premium) in Cheltenham as part of the collection of Sir Roy Strong on April 27.
Chy-an-Eglos from the Artist’s Window was a 23½in x 2ft 5in (60 x 75cm) oil on board which, like Wallis’ work, was typical in style and subject. Dating from 1963, it had a good exhibition history – most recently having been shown at the Belgrave Gallery in St Ives in 2019.
Here, it overshot a £6000-8000 estimate and was sold at £9000 to a European private buyer.
A further work by Pearce sold at Mallams in Oxford on May 26-27 when another oil on board of his hometown titled Wills Lane, St Ives from 1975 took a mid-estimate £5000.