Moore’s work, confusingly titled Lithograph Reclining Lead Figures, was offered on January 25 in an American & European Works of Art sale.
The work was acquired from the sculptor in 1953 and was offered alongside later correspondence between Moore and the owners, who queried whether it was a lithograph.
In the reply, he confirmed it was a drawing, saying: “At the time I did the drawing, I thought I could do a lithograph at some time based on this drawing. In fact, I did make a lithograph using the lower part of your drawing in 1950.”
The 11 x 9½in (29 x 24cm) work, executed in pencil, wax crayon and watercolour, was knocked down at $45,000 (£34,350), a little below the $50,000-70,000 guide. Skinner’s Kathleen Leland said: “It was a fun story to tell – provenance and authenticity work that often falls to us had been completed years before by our art-loving consignors.”
Against the same estimate, a French painting of Dieppe by Gustave Loiseau (1865-1935) took $55,000 (£41,980).
It was purchased in 1981 from the David Findlay Galleries in New York and had remained in the same family since.
The painting is deemed a fine example of Loiseau’s technique, characterised by short, interlocking brushstrokes that created an intricate, lattice-like structure.
Loiseau made at least five visits to Dieppe between 1901-29, painting numerous views of the town and its port.