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'Flowers and Butterflies' by Cedric Morris – £140,000 at Henry Adams.

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Demand for Morris flower paintings has escalated in recent years and the oil on canvas Flowers and Butterflies was hammered down at £140,000 (plus 20% buyer’s premium) on January 17.

The estimate was £40,000-60,000.

This is the third Morris flower painting to fetch a major sum at the auction house.

Back in April 2016, the 1932 work Summer Garden Flowers sold at £81,000. Then in April 2017 the 1923 Wild Flowers made £130,000.

The recent picture had been consigned by a West Sussex private vendor who inherited from her mother in the early 1990s.

The price it fetched was just over the Aus$226,000 (£138,000) hammer price achieved in August 2017 when July Flowers and Wood Warblers (1929) sold at Menzies in Melbourne, Australia.

The auction house said the picture was “fiercely sought after by four telephone bidders, eventually selling to an anonymous bidder on the phone”.

Henry Adams’ director Andrew Swain added: “We are delighted to be so closely associated with such a fascinating artist, proving our ability again to achieve the highest results for his work at auction.”

Exhibitions

A number of London dealers have been promoting Morris’ work in recent years including Philip Mould, Richard Green Gallery and MacConnal-Mason. The artist was the subject of two London exhibitions in 2018, one at the Garden Museum in Lambeth and the other at Philip Mould & Company.

The self-taught Welsh artist founded the East Anglian School of Painting and Drawing in 1937 and pupils included artist Lucian Freud and Maggi Hambling.

Morris is as well-known today for horticulture, breeding more than 90 named varieties of irises in his Suffolk garden.

When he died in 1982 the inscription chosen for the headstone to his grave was the simple phrase ‘Artist Plantsman’.