By Chelsea Old Church (After the Raid) by Wilhelmina Barns-Graham, £16,000 at Lyon & Turnbull.

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The first, appearing in the evening section of the two-day Modern Made auction on April 25, was an early work by Scottish and St Ives artist Wilhelmina Barns-Graham (1912-2004).

By Chelsea Old Church (After the Raid), a 2ft x 2ft 7in (61 x 91cm) oil on canvas painted in 1942, shows extensive damage to the London church that was caused by a parachute mine in 1941. Barns- Graham periodically drew buildings that caught her attention, including churches. The eerie, emptiness of this subject suggests a Surrealist influence and is markedly different to her later, more commercial abstract works.

The picture was among the works the painter sent back from St Ives to Scotland for major exhibitions, in this case for the Royal Scottish Academy’s 117th exhibition in 1943. Priced at £25, it was acquired by the artist’s parents and had remained with the family since.

The appealing composition and provenance ensured it doubled expectations to sell to the trade for £16,000 – a strong price for an early work by the artist at auction.


Plum Blossom, Greece, 1973 by Winifred Nicholson, £14,000 at Lyon & Turnbull.

The second picture, offered in the day sale on April 26, was a late floral subject by Winifred Nicholson (1893-81) produced on a trip to Greece in 1973.

A typical example of the artist’s colourful domestic still-lifes, the 16 x 12in (40 x 30cm) gouache and pastel of a plum blossom in a glass bottle sold for £14,000 to a UK collector against a £6000-8000 estimate.

It had an old label for the Redfern Gallery and had been in the collection of Drs Antony and Zarrina Kurtz.

Modigliani nude


Nu Accroupi by Amedeo Modigliani, £36,000 at Lyon & Turnbull.

The sale’s top lot was a late drawing by Amedeo Modigliani (1884- 1920) of a female nude featuring the artist’s highly distinctive elongated head.

The small 17¼ x 13in (44 x 33cm) pencil on paper also featured a pinhole to the top centre, which according to the auction house, placed it among the many drawings Modigliani attached to his studio walls “for inspiration and in the hope of sales”.

The auction house proposed a c.1916-17 date, noting “the ease of the design, its sensuous flow, suggesting some point during the years of the Great War when Modigliani turned away from sculpture…”.

Provenance-wise, the work had not been seen on the open market since the 1950s. It was also included in the Leicester Galleries’ 1947 exhibition Artists of Fame and of Promise where it was bought by Roland, Browse & Delbanco, then a relatively newly formed gallery carving out a niche in continental modernism. The vendor’s father bought it later from the gallery in the 1950s.

It attracted multiple bids, tipping over top estimate to sell to a UK collector for £36,000 – a price that was in line with other Modigliani nude drawings dating to the last few years of his life.