But, at its latest event, it was a picture by Claudia Williams (b.1933) rather than Sir Kyffin Williams that attracted the most attention – even if a few works by the latter did indeed end up making more.
Claudia Williams was born in Surrey but spent much of her career painting in Wales (her great-grandfather was a Cardiganshire sheep-farmer). She married the Welsh artist Gwilym Prichard and, after living in France for 15 years, they returned to Wales in 1999.
Her works are primarily colourful figurative pictures and, recently, a few signs of a rise in demand in her market have been witnessed at auction, including a record £5400 for a beach scene at Rogers Jones back in April. That sum was then well and truly smashed at the latest sale on July 22 when another beach scene titled Le Vent (The Wind) more than tripled this figure.
The 4ft 3in x 3ft 2in (1.29m x 96cm) signed oil on canvas came to auction from a well-known Welsh artist’s estate. Even larger than Williams’ usual ‘large canvases’, the picture also depicted multiple figures (six in total), a key factor that buyers tend to look for. Auctioneer Ben Rogers Jones said it was “a very complete and accomplished example which had an ambitious feel”. He added that it was “definitely exhibition quality”.
Estimated at £5000-7000, it drew a battle between a Cardiff-based private collector bidding in the room against a north Wales private collector competing online. It was knocked down to the former at £18,000, a sum that significantly raised the bar for Claudia Williams on the secondary market.
Among the eight paintings by Sir Kyffin Williams (1918-2006) at the sale, the highest price came for a depiction of a farmer walking on mountainside which was consigned from the same Welsh artist’s estate.
A trademark work in terms of style and subject, the signed oil on canvas measured 19¾in (50cm) square and was guided at £18,000-25,000.
After decent competition, it was knocked down at £32,000 to a keen collector of the artist based in south Wales who has purchased a number of high-value works by Sir Kyffin over the last few years.
Another painting by the artist from the same source that also made a high price but sold to a different buyer, a private collector based in Cardiff, was Sunset, Dinas Dinlle, No.2. A less typical view of the sun setting over a lake, it fetched £29,000 (estimate: £20,000-30,000).
Two works by Kevin Sinnott (b.1947) also proved popular. Ben Rogers Jones described Sinnott as “surely the most prominent Welsh male living artist”.
First up was a work from c.2003 titled Viridian Gaze. Depicting two figures lying on the grass, the 22½in x 2ft 4in (57 x 71cm) oil on canvas was signed with the artist’s initials.
Estimated at £2000-3000, it sold at £4800 to a private collector from Cardiff who was bidding in the room and who saw off competition from a London collector online.
A few lots later, another slightly smaller figurative painting by Sinnott titled Historic Forces sold to a different buyer, a south Wales private collector bidding online. It fetched £4200 against a £2500-3500 pitch.
Both sums fall within the top 10 auction prices for the artist, according to Artprice.com.
Meanwhile, seven works on paper by the Salford artist Harold Riley (1934-2023) were offered by Rogers Jones in Colwyn Bay on August 29. All came for sale from the son of PC Tony Fletcher who for many years worked as a bobby in the Salford area. He was introduced to Riley (who died in April this year at the age of 88) with the request the artist might accompany him on his beat for two weeks to gain added insight into the area.
The two men became lifelong friends, with the pictures given by Riley to Fletcher as gifts.
All were eagerly competed way past modest estimates. An atmospheric charcoal and pastel scene of a Victorian alleyway sold at £5200 (estimate £200-300).