Landscape with Whistling Boy, 1945 by Keith Vaughan – £29,000 at Great Western Auctions.

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Working as a clerk and German interpreter, army duties precluded studio work and large-scale painting in oil, but he worked on a series of gouaches and ink drawings depicting landscape and army life.

Wartime rationing also meant there were limited art supplies available so the artist had to be particularly inventive with the little that he could find.

His diary at the time (now in Tate Britain) was preoccupied by subjects such as loneliness, the horrors of war and the arrival of VE Day.

Gouache and ink work

Vaughan’s first solo show was held at Alex Reid & Lefevre, London in 1944 with a follow-up exhibition at the gallery in 1946. It was quite possible that the 11 x 15in (28 x 37cm) gouache and ink Landscape with Whistling Boy, 1945 was exhibited at that second show. To the verso is a Lefèvre Gallery label plus a possible artist’s label inscribed and dated Yorkshire 1945.

This well-preserved work from a key period in Vaughan’s development came for sale at Great Western Auctions (24% buyer’s premium) in Glasgow on September 10, consigned from a private Scottish collection. Estimated at £6000- 8000, it attracted interest from eight UK phone bidders before it sold at £29,000 to an anonymous buyer.

The auction house’s picture specialist, Jessie Lloyd, said the price appeared to be one of the highest achieved for a gouache by the artist and reflected the growing strength of the Modern British market.

According to, Green Figures (1948) is the most expensive single gouache to sell at auction, fetching £38,000 at Sotheby’s in November 2021.