A recent example came at Parker Fine Art Auctions (25% buyer’s premium).
The sale in Farnham, Surrey, on January 6 offered Still Life of a Bowl of Pears, an 18in x 21¾in (46 x 55cm) signed oil on canvas by David Peretz (1906-82).
The artist was born in Plovdiv in Bulgaria and studied at the Academy of Fine Arts, Sofia. Along with fellow painters Zlatyu Boyadjiev and Vasil Barakov, he founded the Baratzite group of Bulgarian artists. After moving to France in 1947, he gained a degree of exposure in the UK when London dealers the Redfern Gallery and Crane Kalman exhibited his work in the 1950s and early 60s.
Today, works appear only very occasionally at British auctions; the highest price being £6000 for a flower painting sold at Bonhams in 2010.
The picture in Surrey depicted a bowl of pears and dated from 1955. An attractive proposition against a £2000-3000 estimate, it generated “considerable interest” from Bulgarian bidders according to the saleroom and was eventually knocked down at £4200, the highest price for a Peretz picture in the UK for nine years.
Going to war
A month earlier, at Kinghams (23% buyer’s premium) in Gloucestershire on December 9-11, the picture section was led by a Polish work.
The winter village street scene by Jan Chełmiński (1851-1925) depicted soldiers departing for war – a typical subject for the artist (also known as Jan van Chelminski) who specialised in historical scenes, especially those relating to Napoleon’s campaigns in central and eastern Europe.
The 11½ x 16½in (29 x 42cm) signed oil on board came to the Moreton-in-Marsh saleroom in its original gilt frame. Although the artist has made five-figure sums on many occasions, it was decided to pitch this smaller work at a more modest £2500-3000. After attracting good interest before the sale the painting was taken up to £6000 on the day, at which point it sold online to a buyer based in Poland.
A contrasting work in terms of style was Model Resting by Alfred Aaron Wolmark (1877-1961). He was born in Poland but moved to England with his family at the age of six.
While his early work focused on figurative scenes of Jewish life in the East End of London, as time went on he became more experimental, as this 14½ x 17in (37 x 43cm) signed oil on panel from 1932 demonstrates.
At £400-600, the picture was again pitched at what looked a highly attainable level for an artist who can make significantly more. It sold for £2200 to a local private buyer.