That is certainly the case when it comes to the satirical, caustic and untamed artistry of Ralph Steadman (b.1936).
Original sketches by the Cheshire-born caricaturist and cartoonist do not appear at auction that often, but one emerged at Cotswold Auction Company (24% buyer’s premium) in Cheltenham on October 31.
Consigned from a local private source, the 11 x 14in (28 x 36cm) ink and wash depicted a group of chefs. Signed to the lower left, it was one of number of works by the artist showing frenzied maestros in a chaotic kitchen - an attractive subject for a Steadman drawing.
While it was unclear if this example was executed for a particular publication, the top prices for his work have come for pictures from known commissions - especially the illustrations he made for Hunter S Thompson’s books and articles.
The Audience published on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine in 1971 (where the second instalment of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas appeared) holds the auction record for a Steadman sketch, selling at a hefty $28,000 (£20,800) at Christie’s New York in 2017.
In Cheltenham, expectations were rather lower. The estimate was set at £200-300, a level that attracted strong interest carrying bids to £2400, at which point it was knocked down to a buyer in California. The price stands in the top 10 for Steadman at auction according to Artprice.com.
Elsewhere at the sale, two of three works by Irish artist Graham Knuttel (1954-2023) had a culinary bent. The typically colourful and large paintings on canvas, the like of which frequently appear on the market especially in Ireland, were led by Woman with Cat which overshot a £900-1200 estimate and sold at £3200 to a buyer based in Dublin.
A different buyer in Ireland secured the other two pictures: a 3ft (91cm) square oil on canvas titled Chop Chop that made £2700 (estimate £1500-1800) and another smaller oil simply called Fish that fetched £1950 (£1500-1800).