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This was the case at Lawrences (15% buyer’s premium) of Crewkerne where the rare Christopher Richard Wynne Nevinson (1889-1946) lithograph, The Wave, right, was offered on July 11.

It had been in a local family for almost 60 years but the vendor had never liked the image. “He thought the surf at the bottom of the image resembled tennis balls and could never quite get this notion out of his head,” said specialist Richard Kay.

In 1917, the year in which The Wave was made, Nevinson was appointed an official war artist and this almost abstract image is totally different in subject to his usual œuvre. “This print was a real discovery” said Mr Kay. “The image was so stylised and yet so serene. In my mind it is an anti-war image which makes it something of a rarity for Nevinson.”

Nevinson never included edition numbers on his prints but Gordon Cooke of the Fine Art Society knows of three or four similar lithos which have come on the market in the last 25 years. He sold one in the mid-1990s to New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art for an undisclosed sum and an unsigned version was offered at this year’s London Original Print Fair for £15,000.

Aside from the striking image, which shows strong influences of the Japanese printmaker Hokusai (1760-1849), condition of The Wave caused concerns which kept the estimate down to £2000.

“We couldn’t vouch for the condition of the margins because the print was stuck in a sandwich mount,” explained Mr Kay. There was rather an invasive area of foxing to the lower section of the 14 by 17in (35 x 43cm) image which Mr Kay felt would have been a challenge to remove and the signature was a bit pale. Dealers also voiced concern over the colour, this was a blue edition but not quite as rich a blue as some would have liked. The brittle quality of the paper was also a worry.

All these concerns went by the wayside because of the print’s rarity and the lithograph went for £9800 to an agent bidding on behalf of an American collector who had been searching for The Wave for 30 years.