However, among the works by members of the group catching the eye at auction lately was a somewhat softer subject by Harold Harvey (1874-1941): a painting of three children playing on the grass.
A Ring, a Ring o’ Roses, a 14¼ x 18in (36cm x 46cm) signed oil on canvas, was a typically bright and airy scene by the Penzance-born painter. It appeared at Plymouth Auction Rooms (24% buyer’s premium) on March 16.
In fact, images of children and young women in particular form a significant portion of Harvey’s oeuvre and they can be commercially quite valuable, even if the market is probably more selective than it was a few decades ago.
The picture came from a property in South Hams, near Plymouth. The saleroom has sold several paintings and antiques from the estate over the last year. It had been in the house for at least 30 years and was well preserved behind glass, although the canvas looked like it might need to be re-stretched.
Estimated at £4000-6000, it generated a long bidding battle with two phone bidders competing strongly. It took £25,200 from a UK buyer, the highest price for the artist at auction for over two years (source: Artprice).
From the same source was a Fred Yates (1922-2008) that sold for £2000 and an Alan Lowndes (1921-78) that fetched £8500.
The latter picture was a view of Mousehole harbour, a signed oil on canvas from 1977 measuring 16in x 2ft (41 x 61cm) which was estimated at £4000-6000.
It benefited from a label on the back for a Lowndes retrospective exhibition at London’s Crane Kalman Gallery in 1984, where it was believed the vendor’s family had purchased it. At the auction, the work sold to a private collector from the Home Counties bidding online.
Beryl Cook doubles up
Also offered was a large selection of works by Beryl Cook (1926-2008) – something customary at most art sales at Plymouth Auction Rooms.
In this case 61 lots were on offer, mostly limited edition signed prints making between £50 and £310.
The sole oil painting was a rare double-sided work with a picture to one side titled French Tango, showing a couple dancing, and The Expedition, depicting a couple in a rowing boat, to the other.
The 3ft 9in x 2ft 11in (1.14m x 89cm) signed oil on board was the first double-sided work the saleroom had encountered and it was thought Cook may have been experimenting with one of the paintings (probably The Expedition) and then decided simply to make use of the board for the tango picture.
Consigned by a vendor in the north of England hoping to take advantage of the artist’s strong local connection to Plymouth, it was estimated at £10,000-15,000 and sold at £10,600 to Juan Cabello of Parade Antiques in Plymouth who was bidding in the room.
The dealer’s premises at the Barbican by the city’s historical harbour is a stone’s throw from where the artist used to paint.