The farm directly backed onto the Brick House, the artist’s home in the high street of the Essex village where he lived with his great friend, Eric Ravilious, in the 1930s and which remained his home for over 40 years.
It features in a number of paintings, watercolours and prints by artists of the Great Bardfield school which the two famous artists had established. The opening lot of the sale in Stansted Mountfitchet on April 5 was Ives Farm, Great Bardfield, a linocut in colours from 1957 which was part of an edition of 35.
Showing the farmer, cattle and birds in Bawden’s distinctive style (he used his same technique throughout his career not just for limited edition prints but also for posters, wallpaper, murals and book illustrations), it measured 16in x 2ft (41 x 61cm) but had a few condition issues such as the paper’s light brown discolouration, some horizontal and vertical creases as well as some stains to the margins.
Estimated at £1500-2500 at Sworders (25% buyer’s premium) in Stansted Mountfitchet, it sold at £3200. Only four copies of Ives Farm, Great Bardfield are recorded as selling at auction on Artprice, and this sum was second only to the £3800 fetched by a copy sold at Bonhams in 2011.
On the road
The following lot at Sworders was another linocut, The Road to Thaxted which depicts the front of the farmhouse as a policeman cycles past. It was also released in an edition of 35 in 1956, as well as another edition of 55 in 1960. This 22½in x 2ft 7in (57 x 79.5cm) sheet was an example of the latter.
Signed and dated, it was in good condition with strong colours retained, although it had some small ripples caused by being stuck down on board and a few small abrasions. Pitched at £3000- 5000, it sold at £8000. The price was the highest at auction for one of the 1960 prints, and not too far behind the record £8500 for a copy of the 1956 edition, set by one sold at Cheffins in March 2019.
Sworders’ specialist Amy Scanlon said: “Both prints were quintessential Bawden linocuts and made in relatively small editions. However, The Road to Thaxted brought a particularly strong sum as it is a rare impression and, unlike the earlier editions, shows more vibrant colours.”
Three works by another Great Bardfield artist, John Aldridge (1905-83), were also on offer at the sale, each of them selling above estimate for a combined £14,500.
The artist had moved to the village in 1933 and became a neighbour of Bawden, working alongside both him and Ravilious who were both more established artists from the outset.
The top-seller among the three pictures at the current sale was a slightly later work from 1952, a 10½ x 14in (27 x 36cm) oil on panel titled Bluegate Hall Farm. A signed picture, it was also inscribed with the title and dated on the back.
The artist painted a number of views of the farm in Great Bardfield one of which sold at Sotheby’s for £2400 back in 2003 (Bawden painted Bluegate Hall Farm too, and also made a print of the location).
Although this picture was smaller that the one sold in 2003, the market has moved on quite a bit since then and the estimate of £2000-3000 here was not deemed excessive. After a good competition, it was knocked down at £7000, the fourth highest for the artist at auction (source: Artprice). Indeed, three of the top four prices for Aldridge have come in the last year.
Along with other recent results for Great Bardfield artists, the prices generated confirmed the strength of this art market niche.