Portrait of Ellen Wester (‘Boheme’) by Johan Axel Gustaf Acke, £8000 at Lawrences of Crewkerne.

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The 20in x 2ft 6in (51 x 77cm) bust-length oil, depicting the sitter by a window wearing a striped blue dress and holding a cigarette, was painted in 1909 by Swedish artist Johan Axel Gustaf Acke (1859-1924). According to the auction house, it was viewed over 2000 times online.

Offered on April 16 with a £2000- 3000 estimate, it was knocked down to a private collector in Sweden for £8000. The sum is the highest paid at auction for Acke’s work outside Scandinavia.

“It came from a family collection, and we were able to get great help with the cataloguing and the authentication from our Auctionet colleagues in Sweden,” said Lawrences’ picture specialist Richard Kay. “The elegantly engaging depiction and the skilful inclusion of the cigarette attracted comment.”

Wester was an unconventional woman for her time who apparently “swore and smoked like a trouper”.

She is primarily remembered for her translations of Polish literature and produced over 80 titles, including numerous translated short stories printed in the daily press and in journals.

Grand depiction


The Battle of the Nile, August 1798 by Thomas Luny, £17,000 at Lawrences of Crewkerne.

The picture section at this Somerset auction was led by an appealing Thomas Luny (1759-1837) naval scene depicting the Battle of the Nile in August 1798. It was bought for £17,000, nearly double the top estimate, by a private collector in London using

The work was acquired c.1980 by a descendant of Viscount Hood, whose ship Zealous played an important role in the battle and is depicted in the scene.

It had remained in the family since. Unusually, the painting included an ink key identifying all the vessels, possibly done by Luny himself.

In addition to its provenance, “its appeal rested principally on the combination of its grand depiction of a significant naval battle, its unusual accompanying period key, its alluring estimate and its freshness to market,” said Kay.