Girl in Yellow Sweater by Maurice Denton Welch – £8000 at Rogers Jones & Co.

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It just so happened that the two top sellers were by artists who died tragically young.

The duo formed part of the 60-strong collection included in the August 21 sale which concentrated on lower middle market Post-war and Neo-romantic pictures, many of them by Welsh artists.

A second tranche – including a rare portrait pictured by Brenda Chamberlain, another painter who died before her time – will be sold by the Cardiff auction house in a dedicated Welsh art sale this November.

Offered in the timed auction was a portrait by the English writer and painter Maurice Denton Welch (1915-48). Six bidders pursued it above a £500-600 guide to £3600 when it became a two-way battle. It eventually sold for £8000 to a London trade buyer.

Denton Welch is thought to have painted the picture Girl in Yellow Sweater around the age of 20 while a student at Goldsmiths in London.

He had spent his early childhood years in Shanghai, the son of a wealthy English rubber merchant, and returned to China after unhappy schooling at Repton. At the age of 20, Welch was hit by a car while cycling in Surrey and suffered injuries from which he never really recovered. Forced to abandon painting he took up writing instead.

He died at the age of 33.

According to labels to the 2ft 1in x 16¼in (64 x 41cm) portrait, the subject was thought to be Evelyn Sinclair, his friend and housekeeper with whom he shared an apartment close to his doctor in Tonbridge.

However, the label goes on to say that this theory was rejected by Denton Welch’s long-term partner, Eric Oliver, who believed the sitter was a fellow student at Goldsmiths.

The picture came in fair condition: the paint surface was cracked with some poor-quality restoration to paint losses in the hair and left arm.

Christopher Wood drawing


Village Brittany by Christopher Wood (1901-30) – £4400 at Rogers Jones & Co.

The second work was a pencil drawing by Christopher Wood (1901-30).

The London Group and Seven & Five Society artist jumped under a train at Salisbury railway station at the age of 29.

Executed in his trademark naïve style, the undated 13 x 16in (34 x 42cm) drawing Village Brittany was probably made near the end of Wood’s life when he travelled around Brittany on two occasions between 1929-30.

A Maltzahn Gallery label to the verso stated it had been exhibited by the Cork Street dealership in 1969 and listed previous provenance to the Redfern Gallery. It had some wear to the bottom right corner and was a little dirty in places.

Estimated at £800-1200, five bidders competed for the lot before it was knocked down to a private buyer in London for £4400.