Pencil self-portrait by Marion Richardson, £5500 at Dreweatts.

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Using new methods for teaching art which aimed to stimulate children’s visual perception and inspire self-expression, she is regarded having fundamentally changed the way the subject is studied in England. She is also an important figure in the teaching of handwriting for young children.

A group of 12 works from Richardson’s private collection which had descended to the vendor were among the highlights of Dreweatts(26/25/20/12.5% buyer’s premium) Modern and Contemporary Art sale on March 13. With all of them going over top estimate, together they raised a £40,750 hammer total.

The first lot of the auction in Newbury was a pencil self-portrait by Richardson herself. A 12½ x 10in (32 x 26cm) pencil sketch that she made at the age of 17, it was pictured in her book Marion Richardson Art and the Child (published posthumously in 1948).

Few, if any, of her own works have emerged at auction before but, nevertheless, her name certainly attracted interest as did the elegant execution of the drawing itself and the connection with arguably Richardson’s most important educational document. Against a £300-500 estimate, it was bid to £5500 – setting a benchmark for Richardson at auction.

Three further works by her at Dreweatts each took £600: a landscape, a view of a French village and a portrait of her mother.

2644AM Extra Roger Fry Dreweatts

Still-life of a jar by Roger Fry, £7000 at Dreweatts.

Five pictures by Roger Fry (1866-1934) were also part of the group.

Two of them made £7000 apiece, a still-life and a wooded landscape which was inscribed Best wishes for Christmas/1926 Roger Fry. Richardson and Fry had met a decade earlier when she exhibited a group of her students’ paintings and drawings at Fry’s Omega Workshop, and she remained good friends with both Fry and his sister Margery.

Pastoral scene


Pastoral, an etching by Graham Sutherland, £12,000 at Dreweatts.

The top lot of the Richardson consignment overall was a Graham Sutherland (1903-80) print which surpassed an £800-1200 pitch and was knocked down at £12,000.

Copies of Pastoral, an etching from 1930 with a Samuel Palmer-inspired subject, emerge at auction only occasionally. This is largely because Sutherland produced the work shortly before he abandoned the etching medium altogether and it was never published.

Only a small number of trial proofs were printed in 1930 (although the plate was kept and eventually an edition of 10 was released in 1973).

The example here, one of the earlier proofs, measured 4¾ x 7¼in (12 x 19cm) and was signed in pencil by the artist. It also carried an inscription to Marion Richardson from 1938: With best wishes for Christmas/& love from Jane & Kenneth Clark.

With seemingly no copy of these earlier proofs having come to the market since 2014, it drew considerable demand and the final price more than doubled the highest previous sum for Pastoral. It was also the third-highest price at auction for any Sutherland print.