The Old Mountaineers – Suggestion for the Alpine Club by HM Bateman – £3300 at Lawrences of Crewkerne.

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Spanning much of his career, the market-fresh material drew spirited bidding with all bar two of the 20 lots selling to the tune of £19,700 to a mix of private and trade buyers.

“The group were exactly what people wanted: quirky characters with slightly exaggerated mannerist postures and expressions, from a good provenance and in pretty good condition,” said Lawrences’ director and picture specialist Richard Kay.

Cartoons by Bateman and his contemporaries are a flourishing sector of the art market where demand in recent years has outstripped supply.

The pick of the Bateman cartoons was a comic 14 x 10in (36 x 25cm) work titled The Old Mountaineers – Suggestion for the Alpine Club.

Depicting three old men smoking atop craggy ‘mountain’ chairs, the signed pen and black ink and pencil tickled the taste buds of several bidders and it was pursued to £3300 against a £1500-2000 estimate.

The price is not far behind the £4400 paid for each of the two at John Nicholson’s a year ago for two, separately offered, original signed watercolours from the artist’s most famous series, The Man Who.