Several gloriously dour and brooding views of Yorkshire were among the top-selling pictures at local auction house Hartleys (17.5% buyer’s premium) in Ilkley.
Among those offered in the September 5 sale was a well-sized oil by West Yorkshire painter Peter Brook (1927-2009).
Featuring his trademark leaden skies and a stark rural landscape, the signed 20in x 2ft (51 x 60cm) oil on canvas had come from a deceased estate along with a few other noteworthy pictures, including an Elizabeth Blackadder still life and a study by Richard Parkes Bonington.
With a London gallery label for Thomas Agnew & Sons, the Brook sold to a private buyer for £5400 against a £2000-3000 guide.
“Brook’s market is slowly on the rise; £1000-2500 is the level at which we used to sell a Brook but more recently they have been rising towards the £3000-5000 range, although blue-chip Brooks have sold for more in the London rooms,” said auctioneer Charles Hartley.
According to the Art Sales Index, the artist’s record stands at a premium-inclusive £12,500 paid for a snow scene at Christie’s South Kensington in 2013.
Another local saleroom favourite is Brian ‘Braaq’ Shields (1951-97), whose Lowryesque industrial views have an eager following on the secondary market.
Hartleys has form in this field and currently holds the top three prices for the artist at auction, including a record £56,000 for a horse-racing scene in 2014.
Unlike Brook’s pictures, Braaq’s work appears on the market with more regularity.
“You don’t see anywhere near as many Brooks as you do Braaqs,” said Hartley.
Since prices for Braaq peaked dramatically a few years ago, the market has settled down, due partly to the volume of pictures being consigned on the back of this boom. Strong sums can be achieved for his works, but these tend to be for the larger and rarer canvases and those with sporting subjects.
“ You don’t see anywhere near as many Brooks as you do Braaqs
Two works by the painter featured at Hartleys, both consigned from a collector who has been drip-feeding his large collection of Braaqs through the saleroom.
The busier and thus more desirable of the pair was a signed 16 x 20in (41 x 51cm) oil on board of an industrial snow scene under a moody sky. It sold on top estimate at £7000 to a private buyer. Braaq, who included himself wearing a striped jumper in all his works, can be seen waving from behind a tree.
The other picture, a marginally larger 17 x 21in (43 x 53cm) oil on board called Braaq and Friends at a Red Brick Wall, sold to the trade for £4400 against a £2000-3000 guide.
Outside the Yorkshire picture section, a vibrant floral study by the Scottish artist Elizabeth Blackadder (b.1931) was another leading lot.
The 6½ x 9in (16 x 23cm) watercolour and pencil work of an orchid, signed and dated 1997, had come from the same private estate as the Brook. It bettered its £700-1000 estimate to sell to a private buyer for £4400.
Prices for Blackadder have risen over the last 18 months and this result follows the £7200 paid at Lyon & Turnbull in August (discussed and pictured in ATG No 2357) for a larger still-life of a lobster on a white plate.
From the same source was a small watercolour by the English Romantic painter Richard Parkes Bonington (1802-28). The artist made headlines in 2015 when a rare coastal painting that had hung in the Prime Minister’s residence at 10 Downing Street sold for £2.15m at Christie’s.
The 4½ x 5¾in (11.5 x 14cm) study at Hartleys of costumed figures from a French medieval manuscript sold for a multi-estimate £1300.
The artist, who died of tuberculosis at the age of 25, became an influential figure after moving to France at the age of 14 and later sharing a Paris studio Paris with Eugène Delacroix.
Parkes Bonington is known to have made studies of medieval armour and dress for his historical and costume paintings while working in Paris, examples of which are included in the collection at the Royal Academy in London.