So the emergence of a still-life by the Camden Town artist at Kinghams (23% buyer’s premium) in Moreton-in-Marsh represented a notable coup for the Gloucestershire saleroom.
The 15¾ x 19¾in (40 x 50cm) oil on canvas was discovered in a private Cotswold property. It was signed to the lower right and inscribed with the artist’s address, 102 Wilbury Road (the house in Letchworth Garden City where he stayed at the home of fellow artist Stanley Parker). It also had a label on the back for London dealers Ernest Brown and Philips and The Leicester Galleries.
Views of north London and Dieppe, as well as his subtly lit interiors, have appeared more often at auction than his still-lifes.
The latter, however, were an important part of his oeuvre and, indeed, one such work still holds the joint auction record for Ratcliffe: Still life of mixed flowers in a jug, tangerines and plates on a table that sold at Christie’s for £25,000 back in 1989.
The picture offered at Kinghams on May 27 had a lot going for it in terms of its balanced composition and colour and, like most of his work, it showed the influence of his friend and mentor Harold Gilman (1876-1919) with whom he later exhibited at all the Camden Town exhibitions.
Pitched at £3000-5000, it sold at £7000 to a London collector, a creditable sum even though some may have expected it to make more given the way the Ratcliffe market has developed in recent years and the rarity of available works.
Another Modern British picture generating interest at the Gloucestershire sale was an intriguing garden scene by Margaret Green (1925-2003), an artist who exhibited at the Royal Academy with the London Group, as well as with the New English Art Club.
She was married to fellow painter Lionel Bulmer (1919-92) and the couple bought a dilapidated medieval hall house in Suffolk which they restored, creating an artist’s studio and garden – although it was unclear if this was the setting of the current picture.
The 9½ x 7½in (24 x 19cm) signed oil on linen (laid on board) had its title inscribed to the back, Gazing at Tree, along with a label for The Phoenix Gallery of Lavenham, Suffolk.
Pitched at £300-500, it sold at £1500 – again performing well against the estimate and a decent sum for a work of this size.