Thomson Roddick’s auctioneer and head of valuations Gavin Durward Tavendale said that the Edinburgh saleroom’s latest mixed-category auction had one of best room attendances since the start of the Covid pandemic.
With plenty of online interest in addition for the 489 lots of silver, jewellery, ceramics, furniture, Asian art and pictures at the February 16 sale, the firm reported 933 registered bidders overall.
When it came to the 110 pictures lots, 97 sold (88%) for slightly over £63,000.
Tavendale noted that the selling rate in this sector had been strong for some time, much higher than 15 or so years ago when paintings would often post figures nearer to 50%.
“This is now the section I look forward to the most,” he told ATG. “Certainly, a lot of hard work has gone into selecting the works that the current market wants, but getting the estimates low enough to entice bidding and to bring clients through the doors remains priority.”
As well as the Algernon Newton that was the top lot of the day (see main Art Market report this edition), a couple of keenly estimated European pictures were among the lots drawing competition and surpassing their predictions.
House clearance source
The French and Italian works in question both came from the same Edinburgh house clearance as the Newton and likewise sold to online bidders.
Tavendale said the three pictures attracted a mix of trade and private interest.
A painting by Léon-Augustin Lhermitte (1844-1925) showing a group of figures in white on a procession through a provincial village drew attention in part due to the Arthur Tooth and Sons label on the back.
La première communion, a signed mixed-media composition measuring 18½ x 22¾in (47 x 58cm), was one of the many naturalistic rustic scenes produced by the artist who was born in the Aisne region of north-eastern France.
While Lhermitte’s works tend to fetch a wide range of prices at auction (including six-figure sums on a number of occasions), this one looked an attractive proposition against a £2000- 4000 pitch and was sold via thesaleroom.com at £4200.
Trieste not Venice
Meanwhile, a painting titled La Fontana della Trieste by Venetian artist Emma Ciardi (1879-1933) also generated bidding against a £1000-2000 estimate.
The signed oil painting dated 1922 was again highly typical in terms of style but unlikely to reach the highest prices for the artist; the five-figure sums which are normally reserved for her views of Venice itself.
Nevertheless, a few interested parties were keen to acquire the picture which demonstrated her loosely handled technique and featured bright colours. It was knocked down at £3200.