Drawing by Ben Nicholson makes top price at Bonhams

20th Century British and Irish Art
30 May 2012
London, New Bond Street

Sale included newly discovered works by Sir Stanley Spencer and fresh to the market Henry Moore
An oil and pencil drawing by Ben Nicholson executed during a tumultuous period for the artist, was one of the highlights of the 20th Century British and Irish Art sale that took place at Bonhams on the 30th May.

Entitled St Ives Rooftops (Salubrious), the work sold for £283,250 against a presale estimate of £60,000 – 100,000 after much enthusiastic bidding. It was executed in the autumn of 1951, the year in which Ben Nicholson and fellow artist Barbara Hepworth divorced - a time of personal upheaval for both artists. St Ives Rooftops (Salubrious) depicts the view from Nicholson's new home and consequently a new perspective of St Ives, showing the uneven arrangement of rooftops in front of the sea.

Further highlights of the sale included three newly discovered works by Sir Stanley Spencer. The three paintings, depicting scenes of Cookham, came from the deceased estate of the artist's niece, Pamela Spencer, and had never been exhibited in public before. Bellrope Meadow sold for £91,250, exceeding the presale estimate of £25,000 – 35,000, Black Butts sold for £41,450 and Cookham Reach and Barley Hill sold for £25,000.

Works by Lowry included a painting entitled Yachts at Lytham St Anne's, depicting a peaceful scene of yachts on the water. A far cry from the industrial, urban landscapes and crowded scenes that Lowry is famous for, the work sold for £133,250.

Sculptures by the celebrated artists Dame Elisabeth Frink and Henry Moore were also in high demand. Fresh to the auction market Reclining Figure: One Arm by Henry Moore, that relates to an earlier work on paper, sold for £115,250. Works by Dame Elisabeth Frink included a sculpture entitled Dog that sold for £133,250. It was one of six artist's proofs, which were later cast to raise funds for Great Ormond Street Hospital.

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