The 18in x 2ft 5in (45 x 74cm) oil on canvas Joseph’s Dream is among the few paintings by the artist that have ever appeared on the auction market. Estimated at £500-800, it drew competitive bidding in the room and on the phone before eventually being knocked down at £60,000 (plus 22.5% buyer’s premium).
“The whole sale demonstrates the sheer interest in 20th century British art, which has been on the rise for the last few years,” Cheffins’ art specialist Brett Tryner told ATG. He added that the results for works such as Dunbar’s, who had a painting appear at auction for the first time at a recent Sworders’ sale, were “staggering”.
The picture, which dates from 1938-42, sold to a private buyer who also bought Eileen Lucy ‘Tirzah’ Garwood’s (latterly Mrs Eric Ravilious) Nathaniel and Patsy, two donkeys in a stable with chickens for £24,000, also setting a record for the artist.
Both works came from the collection of the Cambridge County Council school fund, which has been consigned to the auction house in its entirety.
A selection of 50 core works were offered in this auction, all of which sold. The remaining works will be distributed among upcoming sales.
“There isn’t much auction precedent for some of the artists in the Cambridge collection, but Cheffins established this market with yesterday’s sale,” Tryner said.