The scenes she painted of Danish medieval history and poetic ballads were rooted in her fascination with figures such as Edward Burne-Jones and Dante Gabriel Rossetti whose work she encountered on frequent trips to England, while the care she gave to designing her frames – often ornamented with fine details and elaborate carvings – showed the influence of the Arts & Crafts movement.
Estimated at £300-500, a nearly square 2ft 9in (84cm) oil on canvas by Slott-Møller in what looked to be an original frame turned up in an Art and Music auction at Mallams (25% buyer’s premium) in Oxford on October 20.
Contemplation showed a female nude in a bed with two pink roses resting on the covers, framed by grey bed hangings and a carved wooden bed – a subject probably relating to the medieval Danish ballad of Tidemand and Blidelil based on a similar scene in a triptych the artist painted in 1913. That picture sold at Bruun Rasmussen in 2006 for DKr32,000 (then around £3000).
Consigned from a retired member of the trade who had owned it for some 25 years, the painting was competed for by the internet and phone bidders before selling to a trade buyer at £6000. The price is towards the top end for the artist’s paintings at auction, with the exception of a handful of large-scale oils such as The Dying Betrothed (1906) which sold for £95,000 in 2017 at Christie’s (the third time it had sold at the auction house this century).
Results of note
Mallams’ Art and Music auction achieved total sales of £150,000 with an a 80% selling rate.
Other results of note included a late 19th century oil painting of a flock of sheep on a coastal hilltop by animal painter Charles ‘Sheep’ Jones (1836-92), which achieved a mid-estimate price of £3400 and went to a trade buyer.
A 2ft x 19in (62 x 49cm) genre painting by 19th century Italian painter Salvatore Frangiamore (1853-1915) sold to the trade towards the upper guide for £4200.
Frangiamore devoted a large part of his output to depicting scenes in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, with these pictures ranging in price from £2000 to £30,000 on the secondary market depending on size, subject and condition.
A 17 x 23in (43 x 59cm) oil on canvas of a sleeping boy painted in 1953 by Trinidadian-American artist Geoffrey Holder (1930-2014) was another trade buy at £1000.
Holder is best known as a dancer and actor – he was a principal dancer with the Metropolitan Opera Ballet and played the Voodoo villain Baron Samedi in the 1973 Bond film Live and Let Die - but has gained recognition in the last decade among collectors of African-American art.
In June 2020, a large oil on Masonite of a mother and child from 1956 (the year he won a Guggenheim Fellowship in Fine Arts) was knocked down at New York auction house Swann for $9000 (around £7000), a record for the artist at auction.