CONTEMPORARY artists including David Hockney and Dame Elizabeth Frink were pipped to the post by an unknown Spanish beauty in the race to secure the top spot at Moore Allen & Innocent’s Selected Picture Sale on Friday (October 22).
A portrait of a bare-breasted young woman, wearing a red coral necklace with a white sheet across her lap, was snapped up by an eager bidder for £5,800 – a surprise to the auctioneers since the 72cm oil, which was painted some time in the 1800s, was unsigned.
The dona bella knocked an etching of Hockney’s Three Kings and a Queen, signed and dated 1961, into second place, when the hammer fell at £4,800 – right at the top of its £3,000 to £5,000 estimate.
The painting which graced the catalogue cover – a pen, ink and watercolour study of an open landscape with rolling hills and trees, signed by the artist Louis Le Brocquy and dated 1947, made the third highest price of the day at £2,900.
And an extensively restored 17th century portrait of gentleman wearing a white lace collar over a brown and grey sleeved jacket with red lining grabbed fourth place at £2,100.
The renowned sculptor Dame Elizabeth Frink fell just outside the top three. Rolling Over Horse, a signed, 54cm by 69cm limited edition lithograph, romped home at £2,100 while a signed artist’s proof called A Resting Man and a Horse III, measuring 60cm by 80cm, sold for £1,500.
There were also good performances from the contemporary artist Donald Hamilton Fraser, whose signed still life in oils, Flowers and Reflections, made £2,000, as did a study of the battleship HMS High Flier on choppy seas, by the renowned maritime painter Alma Claude Burlton Cull (1880 to 1931).
And the modern artists refused to take the defeat of Hockney lying down. A signed, limited edition coloured screen print after the Australian artist Brett Whitely of a figure in black on an orange background achieved £1,000, a signed, titled and dated study called Scrambled, by Sidney Nolan, made £880 and Gun Turret, lino cut in shades of green and purple, signed by Leonard Beaumont (1891-1986) was sold for £780.
With a sale total of £80,000 it was the most profitable autumn picture sale since October 2007, when the auctioneers sold an undiscovered Rembrandt for £2.2 million.
For more information about buying and selling art at auction, log on to http://www.mooreallen.co.uk