While the sale format had to be changed due to the lockdown, it was business as usual in the sense that the latest East Anglian art sale at Keys (20% buyer’s premium) had a good representation from painters of the Norwich and Ipswich schools.
The online-only auction on May 12, one of two in this category held by the Norfolk firm each year, had been rescheduled from an earlier date. It followed two held by Keys at the end of April, which were also internet sales, that the auction house said had performed well.
Among the 121 lots offered in Aylsham were four paintings by John Moore of Ipswich (1820-1902), three of which sold for a combined £5000.
Born in Woodbridge, Suffolk, the artist appears to have started out as a house painter before moving to Ipswich and working for a wood grainer and sign writer.
Eventually finding his calling as a professional artist specialising in seascapes, he exhibited at the Ipswich Exhibition of Fine Arts and Industries in the late 1860s and joined the Ipswich Art Club at its formation in 1874, remaining a regular exhibitor there until his death.
Works by Moore appear regularly at auction and Keys itself has a solid track-record with the local painter, which includes the sale of a view of Holy Island Castle and Lindisfarne Abbey for £8800 in November 2014.
The best-performing work at this sale was unlikely to reach those heights but it was an attractive and serene view of boats on calm water titled Shipping Becalmed.
A 13½ x 19¾in (34 x 50cm) signed oil on canvas, it had provenance to Norwich’s Mandell’s Gallery. Against a £2000-3000 estimate, it sold to an online buyer at £2750 and was the top lot of the sale.
'East Anglia's LS Lowry'
Another artist featuring prominently was Campbell Archibald Mellon (1878-1955), a painter sometimes referred to as East Anglia’s LS Lowry. The current auction offered five works, all of them finding buyers for a £6380 total.
The artist was born in Berkshire but moved to Norfolk after the First World War where he was determined to become an artist in the footsteps of his artistic hero John Alfred Arnesby Brown (1866-1955).
The group of Mellon works here was led by a beach scene showing a high sandbank which was estimated at £2000-3000. The 8¾ x 11½in (22 x 29cm) oil on panel was inscribed on the verso Early June 10.30am and, although it did not lack appeal, the presence of only distant figures probably counted against it commercially and it was knocked down to an online buyer at £1950.
Again, Keys has sold works by the artist for significantly more, including the Busy Day on Gorleston Beach that made £11,500 in March 2008.
Making a lesser sum but bringing more competition was an oil on panel of Beccles Church that sold online at a top-estimate £800.