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Shire horses, a signed 19in x 2ft 5in (48 x 74cm) oil on canvas, was included in the saleroom’s May 9 auction in Sussex. Estimated at £2000-3000, it went on to fetch £12,000.

A specialist in painting working horses, of which this was a fine example, Kemp-Welch also depicted horses in military service during the First World War and, most famously, provided illustrations for the 1915 edition of Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty.

According to Art Sales Index, her record still stands at the £75,000 paid in 1988 at Duke’s of Dorchester for her large 1937 canvas, The Lumber Team.

Another female artist selling well at Bellmans was Emma Ciardi (1879-1933). The Italian made her name painting genre scenes featuring elegantly dressed figures in 18th century costume, and it was one of these examples that was offered in Sussex.

Titled The Gala Coach, the 2ft 3in x 2ft 5in (70 x 75cm) oil on canvas, had an old label for The Fine Art Society in London, where she exhibited on a number of occasions. Signed and dated 1923, it sold for £6200 against a £1500-2500 guide.

Ciardi’s most commercial works at auction remain the views of her home city of Venice. A record £45,000 was fetched in 2003 at Christie’s London for Grand fête on the Grand Canal.

Marine work sails high


Marine work by British painter and prolific poster designer Charles Pears sold for £2200 at Bellmans.

Elsewhere in the sale, a marine work by British painter and prolific poster designer Charles Pears (1873-1958) took nearly three times its estimate at £2200. The sun-drenched 19in x 2ft 5in (49 x 75cm) oil on canvas titled Sailing boat in calm waters, depicts a boat floating on water as smooth as a millpond.

The artist was a keen sailor and during the First World War served with the Royal Marines as well as being an official war artist, a role he continued in the Second World War.

Earlier this year, the auction house sold a pair of Second World War oils by the artist for £3400 each.