Daisy Fellowes by Cecil Beaton – £1700 at Bonhams.

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Sold to the private UK owner as a single lot by Christie’s back in 1988, they were offered here separately with hopes of £400-1800 apiece.

All of them sold for a hammer total of £19,540.

Bonhams specialist in Modern British and Irish art and head of the sale Janet Hardie said: “Even amid the current situation there is still a real appetite for beautiful works of art. The Cecil Beaton sketches in particular offered a timely sense of escapism, encapsulating the glamour, fun and freedom of the Roaring Twenties.”

Society portraits

The good reaction to the group sale followed the considerable interest that had emerged at Amersham Auction Rooms in October last year for a Cecil Beaton sketch of Christian Dior working in his studio in Paris. Offered from the estate of society dress designer Ian Thomas (1929-93), the drawing had sold for £5200.

Estimated at £1200-1800 at Bonhams was a 15 x 13in (39 x 33cm) sketch of Daisy Fellowes (1980-62), heiress to the Singer sewing machine fortune as well as a notable beauty and trendsetter in the 1920s-30s.

In The Book of Beauty, Beaton wrote: “If the door is opened and the willowy Mrs Fellowes swishes in, all eyes are upon her and she completely vanquishes any other beauty who may be unfortunate enough to be present.”

Knocked down at £1700, it made the highest price among the group at Bonhams.

Actress and viscountess

Also bringing a decent competition were Beaton’s sketches of actress Lady Iva Abdy, who he depicted in Shakespearean costume, and Viscountess D’Abernon (1866-1954), a composition derived from a portrait of the sitter painted by John Singer Sargent during a visit to Venice in 1904. These sold at £1400 and £1300 respectively.

Lady Abdy was born in St Petersburg and escaped from the Russian Revolution by fleeing to Finland with her family, before later moving to Paris where she socialised with Coco Chanel and Jean Cocteau.

D’Abernon was associated with the aristocratic intellectual group known as The Souls and trained during the First World War as a nurse anaesthetist.