Landscape with Figures (Daphnis and Chloe), dated 1927, was displayed at the artist’s first one-man show at London’s Leicester Galleries in 1928.
The alternative title refers to the Greek myth of naive young lovers Daphnis and Chloe, raised together on the island of Lesbos and after a series of misadventures marry and live happily ever after.
Showing Armstrong’s interest in Surrealism, the painting was bought at the exhibition by Maurice Chesterton (1882-1962), a cousin of writer G K Chesterton, and had passed by descent to the vendor.
When it was shown nearly 50 years later at the Royal Academy, shortly after Armstrong’s death, it was described as ‘a picture which… perfectly expresses the spirit of Art Deco’.
In ‘superb preservation’ with the original gold painted chamfered frame and fragmentary exhibition label for the Leicester Galleries, it was purchased by a private UK bidder for £16,000 at Mellors & Kirk (20% buyer’s premium) on November 27. It was estimated at £10,000-15,000.