Dobrée was a painter, sculptor, writer and poet, who experimented with both Cubism and Surrealism, and was connected with the Bloomsbury Group.
The six lots came fresh-to-market from the artist’s family in Suffolk. “There was massive interest in this group from both trade and private bidders,” said Reeman Dansie’s picture specialist Daniel Wright.
The group comprised two early Cubist works, thought to have been executed in the 1920s or early ‘30s, and several smaller preparatory collages produced several decades later in the 1960s.
The Cubist works, which may well have been included in Dobrée’s first solo show at the Claridge Gallery in London in 1931, drew the keenest bidding.
“There was a rarity level here. Not only was she an English artist doing Cubism, but a female English artist. You can count on one hand the number of British artists who visited Cubism at that time,” said Wright.
A mixed media collage still-life measuring 23in x 2ft 6in (60 x 75cm) and featuring a musical instrument was taken above the £500-700 guide to £5700 where it was hammered down to the trade.
The other Cubist work, a 22 x 2ft 3in (55 x 70cm) oil on board dominated by a vase of flowers, sold for £2700 against an identical estimate to the same buyer.
Benton End collection
The sale at Reeman Dansie also featured more than 250 lots from the studio contents of East Anglian artist and Benton End School member, Glyn Morgan (1926-2015).
The vast majority of Morgan’s works got away, including an early fantastical landscape from 1953 for £1500, as well as paintings by several other local artists. The result reinforced the high demand for Benton End artists, particularly those painting in the heyday of the 1950s-’60s.
An unfinished 2ft x 18in (61 x 46cm) canvas of yellow irises by Morgan’s mentor Cedric Morris (1889-1982) sold to a trade buyer for £2500, against a £500-700 guide.
The artist’s strong market form meant that this piece was bound to draw interest, despite being unfinished.
Lucy Harwood (1893-1972) is another Benton End painter whose prices have experienced a “tremendous rise” over the last decade, says Wright. Her spontaneous and vibrant still-lifes and landscapes were once valued in the low few hundreds but have since risen to four figures.
The Morgan consignment included a 21 x 19in (54 x 49cm) oil on canvas titled The Fish Statue, which was secured at £2100 by a private buyer against an attractive £300-500 estimate.
This is a new high for the artist at auction according to the Art Sales Index, bettering a £1400 landscape paid at Bonhams Knightsbridge in 2014.