Artist’s mother in an interior by Ruth Doggett sold for £13,000 at Cheffins, a new auction record.

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The signed oil paintings offered at Cheffins (24.5% buyer’s premium) on May 26 were the latest works to come to the Cambridge saleroom direct from the artist’s family. Around half a dozen had already sold in the last two years for a combined £25,000 – over four times the total paid at auction for all her previous works (nine in all), according to Artprice.

Doggett was born in London and moved to Cambridge when she was 20 before returning to the capital where she enrolled at the Westminster School of Art. Among her teachers were the Camden Town Group painters Harold Gilman, who drew and painted her in c.1915, and Walter Sickert.

She became a member of The London Group in 1913 and held a solo exhibition at the Fine Art Society in 1934.

She specialised in landscapes, still-lifes and interiors and is chiefly admired for her mastery of colour and composition.

Offered first at Cheffins with an inviting £1500-2500 guide was a view of Long Melford village in Suffolk in c.1934, a spot that appears in several canvases by Doggett. The 19½ x 23in (50 x 60cm) oil on canvas attracted multiple bids before it was knocked down at £9500 to a private UK buyer.

It surpassed the previous auction high of £7000 set at Cheffins in 2020 for the landscape Gunwalloe and far exceeded the £1800 paid for a similar view of Long Melford in 1999 at Phillips.

The record was broken two lots later, however, when a portrait of the artist’s mother in an interior (possibly the family’s home in Cambridge) made £13,000 from an online bidder – pushing Doggett’s pictures into five figures for the first time at auction.

The 23 x 19in (59 x 49cm) oil on canvas was guided at £1200-1800 and sold to another private UK bidder.

Experimental Forbes


Children on the beach, St Ives by Stanhope Forbes – £34,000 at Cheffins.

The top-selling picture in the Cheffins sale was an experimental work by Stanhope Forbes (1857-1947), the so-called ‘father of the Newlyn School’ best known for his depictions of the hard lives of fishermen and their families.

Painted in situ with a flat-ended brush, the signed 11 x 16in (30 x 40cm) oil on canvas was executed together with a smaller study of similar composition (now held in Bristol Museum and Art Gallery) while Forbes was holidaying in St Ives with his family during the summer of 1886.

Depicting Porthminster Beach with small clusters of children playing on the sand, bathing tents and lines of towels and swimming costumes drying in the breeze, it came to auction from the estate of Roland Baker, a former managing director of Global Watches. Baker had paid £27,000 for the picture at Christie’s in 1994.

Cheffins described the lot as having a “resolutely modern character” in contrast to Forbes’ Newlyn works and added that he was “seemingly experimenting with technique, composition and palette”.

Perhaps because it was an experimental work it had failed to find a buyer at Christie’s where it was offered in 2021 (guide £40,000-60,000). In Cambridge, however, it got away for £34,000, just below pre-sale hopes of £35,000-45,000 to a private buyer based in the UK.