They had been displayed in the couple’s Bauhaus-style bungalow in West Sussex and they came to auction after Wilfred died earlier this year aged 97.
A descendant of the famous Cassirer family in Germany, he was a successful businessman who became chief executive and then chairman of suit company Moss Bros. He always had a foot in the art market, however, his uncle being the Berlin dealer Paul Cassirer who sold works by some of the great Impressionists such as Cézanne and Van Gogh.
The couple, having been friends of the likes of Henry Moore and Elisabeth Frink, set up the Cass Sculpture Foundation in 1992, a public sculpture park in Goodwood which was also a selling space. It closed in 2020 due to difficulties in servicing the operating costs.
With Bellmans seemingly not under too much pressure in terms of estimates, all 24 lots sold at the November 15 auction in Billingshurst, generating a £70,040 (including premium) total.
While nine Henry Moore prints from the collection raised a combined £6650, the highest price of the consignment came for a David Hockney (b.1937) colour lithograph.
Pool Made with Paper and Blue Ink for Book was part of an edition of 1000 published by Tyler Graphics of New York in 1980. Signed and dated in pencil, the lot included a copy of the book Paper Pools which was also signed by Hockney in red ink. Estimated at £20,000-30,000, it brought plenty of interest and sold for £34,000 to a London dealer on the phone.
Another lot at Bellmans with a notable, separate provenance was a rare cast of Henri Gaudier-Brzeska’s (1891-1915)Crouching Fawn.
The original was carved in 1913 in Bath stone – it probably evolved out of the artist’s drawings made observing deer in Richmond Park – and it sold for a cool £130,000 at Christie’s in 2007.
This 9¾in (24.5cm) high example was a posthumous bronze that was cast between 1918-39. It was previously owned by Jeanne Courtauld (1909-2003), the niece of Samuel Courtauld, the founder of The Courtauld Institute of Art in London, and had been given by the former as a gift to a member of the vendor’s family.
Estimated at £8000-12,000, it drew interest from both trade and private bidders before it sold at £26,000 to a UK private buyer.
A good competition also came for a Maltese scene by Mary Fedden (1915-2012). Titled Victoria, Gozo, the 15¾ x 19¾in (40 x 50cm) signed oil on canvas from 1963 came fresh to the market having been bought by a member of the vendor’s family from Bear Lane Gallery in Oxford in 1964.
Estimated at £3000-5000, its appeal was somewhat different to the many still-lifes painted by the artist but it drew interest nonetheless, selling at £20,000 to a Maltese private buyer, an above average sum for the artist at auction.
The sale also included five works by the recently deceased Ken Howard (1932-2022). A mix of paintings and watercolours, they each got away raising a combined £37,200.
The highest price came for the impressively-scaled Rain Effect, London, a 5 x 6ft (1.53 x 1.83m) signed oil on canvas that the vendor acquired directly from the artist in 2006, shortly after it had been exhibited at the Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition.
Showing the Royal Exchange as well as the London Troops War Memorial and the Wellington statue, it featured some of the most famous landmarks of the City of London. A similar view of the same setting that fetched £26,000 at Christie’s in 2014 holds the auction record for the artist.
After bringing interest from both UK private buyers and the trade against a £20,000-30,000 estimate, the painting at the West Sussex sale was knocked down at £22,000, the third-highest sum for Howard at auction (source: Artprice).
For Bellmans, this was the final picture auction of the year and it took the firm’s annual sales total for pictures to £1.3m (including premium). This plus-£1m figure was a first for the auction house with picture specialists Julian Dineen and Michael Grist at the helm of the department.