The 18th century Gothic revival country house, which is located about five minutes drive from the firm’s main saleroom in Wotton-Under-Edge, Gloucestershire, has been restored by its owner and will be used by the auction house for ad hoc selected sales.
The lot receiving the most competition at the November 6 sale was a Bridget McCrum (b.1934) bronze sculpture – a work that Wotton auctioneer John Rolfe admitted was tricky to value as so few works by her have ever sold at auction before (the Artprice database lists only two).
The sculptress was influenced by artists such as Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth and her work has been offered at exhibitions held by dealer Messums – which was where the original owner was believed to have purchased it.
Two Knife Birds, a 2ft 4in (70cm) high patinated bronze, also had a sense of another of her inspirations: Constantin Brâncusi. It drew a great deal of demand on the day, in part thanks to its £500-800 estimate, and all the phone lines were booked for the auction with the saleroom having to turn down further requests. After a lengthy competition, it sold at £7600 to a collector in the room who had his hand up from the first bid.
The result puts McCrum on the map in terms of the secondary market, raising her best auction price more than three-fold.
Meanwhile the highest expectations at the Wotton sale were on Tribute I, a Dame Elisabeth Frink (1930-93) bronze that came to auction from the estate of Audrey Lanigan, a pioneering journalist and a great friend of the artist.
Estimated £150,000-200,000, it failed to meet the reserve on the day but got away thanks to a good deal of post-sale interest. It was eventually sold for £140,000 plus premium to a Frink collector in the West Country.