The Modern British & Irish Art market in London as a whole so far in 2016 shows an impressive 22% increase on last year. These bullish conditions were evident at our recent June auction, the departments most successful to date totalling £8.3m. 246 registrations were drawn from 15 countries to take part in this exciting sale and cements the fact that this field is becoming truly international.
The New Bond Street auction was 84% sold by lot overall with an incredible 46% selling in excess of their upper estimates, both figures being higher than any competitor. This is a direct result of Bonhams practice of a tightly curated auction, considered valuations and a team that is devoted to spending more time and energy on getting the best result for each and every lot consigned to us.
The C.S. Reddihough Collection was 100% sold with highlights including £1.8m for Henry Moore's plaster Reclining Figure (1945), the seminal 1928 (Pill Creek) by Ben Nicholson made £722,500 and an astonishing £206,500 was achieved for Seated Girl by Barbara Hepworth, a drawing measuring just 10 x 8 inches. Indeed, across the board this season and in all formats, there was exceptional interest in those perennial titans of British art – Moore, Nicholson and Hepworth.
Irish art too was 100% sold and the department is proud to continue its commitment to local exhibition in Dublin at our Molesworth Street gallery, as well as international promotion, ahead of sale for this vital sector. Prices were strong for stalwarts such as Sir John Lavery and Jack B. Yeats but the welcome surprise of the day was £79,300 for a 7 x 10 inch Paul Henry painting.
Work from the 1930s and 1940s experienced a particular surge this first half of the year but with modern masters such as John Hoyland, Michael Andrews and Patrick Caulfield also performing formidably at the other end of the spectrum. The demand for 20th and 21st century sculpture continues unabated with artists such as Lynn Chadwick and William Turnbull especially contested.
There is an overall hunger for quality. Be that in terms of provenance, of date, medium or other, works that are rare or unique have the proven capability to make spectacular prices in this market. A case in point was the new world auction record secured for John Minton's 1951 masterpiece Jamaican Market which had never been seen in public previously. Offered at £20,000-30,000, it smashed the estimate and sold for £188,500 after furious bidding in the room and on the telephone.
We look forward now to repeating this success at our next major auction on 23 November. The closing date for entry is 7 October, please contact one of our specialists for more information and to take advantage of this buoyant market.
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Goods subject to Artists Resale Right Additional Premium.