The pictures were brought into Bourne End Auction Rooms (17.5% buyer’s premium) on June 2 by a local private vendor whose parents had collected such works.
One was a post-Impressionist landscape of the English countryside by Stanislawa de Karlowska (1876-1952) – an artist who studied art in Warsaw and Cracow before moving to Paris in 1896 to train at the Académie Julian. She moved to London two years later after having met and then married the Camden Town artist Robert Bevan (1865-1925).
Her work was in a similar vein to Bevan and her fellow London Group members; for example, her trademark use of flat perspective and strong colours made her works quite familiar, although there are also hints of eastern European folk art in some of her paintings.
While her stylised urban views from the 1930s are deemed her most impressive works (around 20 are now in public collections in the UK), very few have ever emerged at auction.
Earlier views of south-west England, however, such as this picture at Bourne End which depicted the Black Down Hills on the Somerset-Devon border, have appeared on a number of occasions, including A Devon Farm from c.1916 that made £5500 (including premium) at Christie’s back in March 1997. It was the highest price for the artist at auction before this sale (source: Artprice by Artmarket).
The 20in x 2ft (51 x 61cm) signed oil on canvas here was dated 1917 and was a typically pleasing composition. Estimated at what proved to be a very appealing £500-700, it drew five phone bidders including a London dealer, a private buyer and the Hertfordshire gallery which finally secured it at £11,500.
The price established a new benchmark for the artist, although she still has a long way to go to reach the kind of sums her husband Bevan can make at auction.
Portrait of a girl
Meanwhile, from the same source was a portrait of young Jewish girl by fellow Polish artist Józef Mehoffer (1869-1946).
The 19 x 12¼in (48 x 31cm) pastel on brown paper had an inscription in French to the top left which implied it was painted as a gift to the Swiss writer and painter William Ritter. The reverse also had an inscription in French: Little Jewish girl from Florence, pastel by Josef de Mehoffer, the great Polish painter, given to my father in Florence, winter 1900.
Figurative works by the artist occasionally come to the market and tend to attract interest from the artist’s followers both in his homeland, where he is celebrated as a leading member of the Young Poland movement, as well as elsewhere in Europe.
Estimated at £600-800, this work also drew considerable interest and it was knocked down at £12,000 to a German buyer who had left a strong commission bid. While Mehoffer has made substantially more at sales in his homeland, this was among the highest sums recorded at a UK sale.