Family at the Beach by Mary Adshead, £3200 at Halls.

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A series of six large wall paintings that the artist made for Lord Beaverbrook’s dining room at his Newmarket home Calvin Lodge had emerged. Each measuring over 2m high, they sold as separate lots for sums between £11,000 and £2800.

Aside from these results, the top price for Adshead came for a much smaller picture offered in a recent timed online sale staged by Shropshire saleroom Halls (24% buyer’s premium).

Titled Family at the Beach, the 11 x 10¼in (28 x 26 cm) signed oil on board was part of the 350-lot collection of paintings, prints and sculptures amassed by the late West Midlands surgeon Magdi Latif Obeid, a distinguished consultant and vascular specialist.

Obeid had bought it at an auction at Fieldings in 2018 for £700. It turned out to be a good investment.

Commercial designs

Adshead studied at the Slade between 1920-24 and worked with Rex Whistler on a mural commission at Highways boys’ club in Shadwell.

Although she became a prominent muralist, creating decorations for both public and private spaces, she also illustrated books and made commercial designs for London Transport and the Post Office.

Her oil paintings like the example at Halls do not come to auction very often but the demand generated by the current work, which admittedly had an attractive subject, suggested that she may be benefiting from the increasing interest in Modern British female artists.

Estimated at £500-700 at the auction that closed on October 13, it sold at £3200 - significantly higher than any non-mural painting by the artist had ever reached.

Offered across two online sales, the Obeid collection raised just over £70,000.

Halls’ specialist Abigail Molenaar said: “Bidders were battling to secure their favourite pieces, with interested parties from across the UK, Europe, America and Canada.”