'Still life with Chinese vase, fruit and silver salver' by George Leslie Hunter – £85,000 at Bonhams.

Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

The big names were all represented at the auction on October 14. Two still-lifes by Samuel John Peploe (1871-1935) took £200,000 and £150,000, both selling on low estimate, while a further still-life by Francis Campbell Boileau Cadell (1883-1937) sold below a £100,000-150,000 pitch at £75,000 and Boats at Royan by John Duncan Fergusson (1874-1961) also went below expectations at £23,000.

Better competition

Bringing better competition, though, was a still-life by George Leslie Hunter (1877-1931) which carried a £50,000-80,000 estimate.

The 2ft x 20in (62 x 51cm) signed oil on board ticked a lot of boxes with its compositional arrangement set around a central motif, in this case a Chinese jar and cover. The tonal qualities were also admired and its provenance to the artist’s cousin, the wealthy banker and barrister John Gibson-Jarvie (1883-1964), also helped.

While his output could vary in quality – Hunter has long been considered the most mercurial for the four Colourists – the works he sold to Gibson-Jarvie brought him much needed money at a time when his finances were particularly stretched and the artist made concerted efforts to paint impressive pictures for him.

The Bonhams catalogue noted that this impetus in the later 1920s gave Hunter’s pictures “a dramatic energy and confidence which he had never reached in his work before”.

With these various factors in its favour, bidders did not regard the estimate as excessive and a number of parties carried the work above those levels. It sold to a private British collector bidding online at £85,000, a decent sum and one of the top five prices for Hunter this year.

Overall the 113-lot sale made a total of £1.62m including premium with 82% of the lots sold.