This week’s 20th Century British and Irish Art sale at Bonhams broke the world auction record for a work on paper by Henry Moore. After a considerable bidding war, the 1941 drawing of a seated mother and child sold for £634,850. It was featured in last year’s major retrospective of Henry Moore at the Tate Gallery. A 1939 bronze sculpture by Henry Moore, Stringed Reclining Figure, was also sold at this auction, going for an surprising £283,350 – three times an already high estimate.
The sale total was £4,150,000, and another world record for a work on paper by Lowry was also set. The 1939 drawing of Swinbury Station sold for £121,250, significantly over its presale estimate of £50,000–80,000. It was the first time that the picture has been seen at auction, having been given to its now-previous owner by the artist as an engagement present. A spokesperson for Bonhams said that the auction house was ‘delighted to have offered so many works that were fresh to the market’.
Frank Auerbach’s Nude on Bed sold for a substantial £780,450. This canvas work was also fresh to the market, having been hitherto housed by a North American Institution. The nude in question is Estella, one of Auerbach’s most regular models and his lover for 23 years. Other British highlights included a 1985 sculpture by Dame Elisabeth Frink, which sold for an impressive £289,250, nearly doubling the presale estimate of £120,000 – 180,000.
Irish highlights included: a work by influential landscape artist Paul Henry A.H.A, entitled Running for Shelter that sold for £175,250; as well as newly discovered painting by Jack Butler Yeats called Giant Reading that went for £85,250. A Bonhams spokesperson stated that ‘Almost half a million pounds was achieved for the Irish art’, adding that ‘We are delighted that five of the works will be returning to Ireland.’
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