Consigned from a private source, many of the works had previously been displayed as part of the exhibition Joe Stefanelli: The War Years (1943-1945) at Brown University in Rhode Island in 2009.
The artist is best known as a member of the New York Abstract Expressionist School (his contemporaries included Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning) but the majority of the works here focused on war subjects. Stefanelli produced paintings for YANK magazine in the Pacific during the Second World War and some of his work now resides in the official war archive in Washington.
These examples of the artist’s oeuvre, however, are less familiar and seemingly have a more limited market. Most sold below predictions at the January 27 auction in Surrey. Anti-Aircraft Guns, a signed and dated watercolour from 1944, for example, sold at £160 (plus (25% buyer’s premium) against a £200-300 estimate. Like a number of other works in the group, it had a detailed handwritten description on the back describing the scene.
The abstract compositions at the sale generated more bidding. Among them was a pair of mixed-media collages from 1951 which were signed, dated and measured 17½ x 22½in (44.5 x 57cm). Pitched at £150-250, they sold on mid-estimate to a local buyer.
Overall, the 20 works were offered as 15 lots, of which 13 sold for a combined £1770.