'RB Kitaj', an etching by Frank Auerbach – £4200 at Roseberys.

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Part of the 1980 set Six Etching of Heads (published in an edition of 50 by Bernard Jacobson), the prints were all signed, dated and measured 6 x 5¼in (15 x 14cm). They were each estimated at £800-1200.

First up at the sale in West Norwood, London, on October 6 was an etching of American artist RB Kitaj. Like Auerbach, Kitaj had Jewish roots and settled in London, although the latter had come to Britain somewhat earlier in 1939 under the Kindertransport scheme. The two had become friends and Kitaj was apparently the first to use the term ‘School of London’ in 1976 in relation to artists including himself, Auerbach, Leon Kossoff, Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud.

The etching sold at £4200.

It was immediately followed by the two other Auerbach prints, Joe Tilson which made £1500 and then Leon Kossoff at £3600. Kossoff and Auerbach were well acquainted, having met over 30 years earlier when studying together at St Martin’s School of Art. Auerbach and Tilson had also known each other for a long time, meeting in the mid-1950s at the Royal College of Art.

The top lot of the Roseberys sale overall was a Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) print that surpassed a £3000-5000 estimate and was knocked down at £6500.


'Colombe Volant', a Pablo Picasso lithograph – £6500 at Roseberys.

Colombe Volant was a colour lithograph from 1952 that was signed and numbered 159/200 in pencil. The price at Roseberys falls between two examples of the same print sold at Christie’s in recent years – one that made £4200 in March 2015 and another that fetched £8500 in May 2019.

Head of prints at Roseberys Shane Xu noted that “a lot of the works were sold without being asked for a condition report or general queries”. While this has been noticeable elsewhere as collectors have been buying online in much greater quantity during the Covid-19 crisis, she added that it indicated “a lot of confidence in terms of the quality and the pricing of the works we offer”.