Dorothea Sharp view of St Ives

The Warren, St Ives, c.1930, by Dorothea Sharp, estimated at £2000-3000 at Lay’s.

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Initially collecting paintings by Newlyn School artists such as Stanhope Forbes, Charles Simpson and Thomas Cooper Gotch, the Branfields’ interest then moved on to St Ives artists including Robert Borlase Smart, John Anthony Park, and then Modernists such as John Wells, Wilhelmina Barns-Graham, Terry Frost and Bryan Wynter.

In later years, paintings by Roger Hilton, Rose Hilton and Paul Feiler were added to the collection.

Throughout this period, they continued to collect the work of artist friend Tony Giles. In fact, the very first and very last paintings acquired were by him.

The Branfields bought both from dealers and at auction. “Madam”, said the auctioneer on one occasion, “you are bidding against your husband”.

Branfield, now well into his 90s, often lent works from the collection to public galleries but is now selling his large group of works following the death of his wife (known as ‘Pep’) last year.

Ahead of the Lay’s auction, the collection was exhibited as part of a museum show at the Penlee House Gallery & Museum in Penzance and it is currently on view in London at 6, Mason’s Yard until February 17.

More than 190 lots will be offered in total but here is a selection of five pictures by some of the leading artists on offer.

1. Alfred Wallis boat painting

Steamer with Fish by Alfred Wallis

Steamer with Fish by Alfred Wallis, estimated at £12,000-18,000 at Lay’s.

A painting by Alfred Wallis (1855-1942) titled Steamer with Fish is among the well known works in the Branfield collection. A typically small composition measuring 9 x 11.5in (23 x 29 cm), the artist painted it using household paint to a piece of cardboard. The image was later reproduced as a greetings card to help raise funds for the building of the Tate St Ives.

The Branfields bought it from the Wills Lane Gallery in St Ives and at the Lay’s auction it is estimated at £12,000-18,000.

View the catalogue entry for this Alfred Wallis painting on

2. Stanhope Forbes’ boy on a horse

Stanhope Forbes painting

Untitled (Farm Boy on a Horse) by Stanhope Forbes, estimated at £10,000-15,000 at Lay’s.

Stanhope Alexander Forbes (1857-1947) was one of the first artists in whom the Branfields became interested after they moved to Cornwall in 1961 with their young family. The ‘father’ of the Newlyn School group of painters often journeyed to the Cornish countryside to find subjects and this 2ft 6in x 3ft (76 x 92cm) oil on canvas was fairly typical of his output.

The signed picture of a farm boy on a horse previously sold at Forbes’s studio collection sale before being bought and sold by the Newlyn Orion Gallery in 1981. Here it is estimated at £10,000-15,000.

View the catalogue entry for this Stanhope Forbes picture on

3. Terry Frost abstract

Terry Frost abstract

Umber and Ochre by Terry Frost, estimated £5000-8000 at Lay’s.

This Terry Frost (1915- 2003) abstract, Umber and Ochre from 1961, stands somewhere between his much sought after 1950s paintings when he was experimenting with shape and colour and his later works for which tended to focus on bolder primary colours.

The 2ft 1in x 2ft 6in (64 x 76cm) oil on canvas had formerly hung in Frost's mother's house. “The concentration of touch here is at the maximum,” Frost had said about the picture before describing it simply as “a lovely painting”.  

It is estimated at £5000-8000. View the catalogue entry for this Terry Frost abstract on

4. Tony Giles picture

The Grave of Alfred Wallis by Tony Giles

The Grave of Alfred Wallis by Tony Giles, estimated at £1000-2000 at Lay’s.

The artist Tony Giles is probably best known in the west country but the Cornish artist, who was a good friend of the Branfields, has been gaining attention from further afield over recent years.

This 14 x 20.5in (36 x 52cm) signed and dated mixed media composition from 1989 depicts the grave of artist Alfred Wallis in Barnoon Cemetery in St Ives. The grave itself is formed from tiles designed by Bernard Leach.

The painting, a tribute to both Wallis and Leach, was among the works exhibited at the Giles’ 65th birthday retrospective held at Penwith Gallery in St Ives in 1990. It is estimated at £1000-2000 at Lay’s.

View the catalogue entry for this Tony Giles picture on

5. Dorothea Sharp view of St Ives

Dorothea Sharp view of St Ives

The Warren, St Ives, c.1930, by Dorothea Sharp, estimated at £2000-3000 at Lay’s.

This view of The Warren, a narrow street in St Ives overlooking both Westcotts Quay and St Ives harbour, is by Dorothea Sharp (1874-1955). Dating from c.1930, the 2ft x 20in (60 x 50cm) oil on canvas was bought originally from the artist’s studio in St Ives not long after it was painted.

More recently it was exhibited at the Creating a Splash exhibition at Penlee House in Penzance (which travelled to Lincoln Castle, Doncaster Art Gallery, Hereford Art Gallery, Sunderland Art Gallery and Newport Art Gallery between 2002-4). At Lay’s, it is estimated at £2000-3000.

View the catalogue entry for this Dorothea Sharp painting on