The landscapes offered at at Woolley & Wallis’ (25/12% buyer’s premium) Modern British and 20th Century Art sale had been in the collection of well-known art collector John Louis Behrend (1881-1972).
They included a Cambridge scene of a row of punts on a riverbank, dated 1925, and a bird’s-eye view of the countryside surrounding Hod Hill in Dorset.
Like many British artists who served during the First World War, Lamb sought solace in the countryside afterwards and embraced a nostalgic view of the English landscape.
Hod Hill, painted just 20-odd miles from the Wiltshire village of Coombe Bissett where Lamb moved in 1928, is a fine example.
Estimated at £1500-2500, the 16 x 20in (41 x 51cm) oil on canvas attracted multiple bids, including from the trade, before it went to a private collection for £11,000 via thesaleroom.com in the December 14 sale. The Cambridge scene, an oil on board of near identical size, tipped over top estimate to sell to the trade for £4000.
W&W specialist Ed Beer put the strong results down to “quality and market freshness”, adding that the Hod Hill landscape “particularly appealed to a lot of our clients as they know the view well”.
While commercial interest in Lamb tends to focus on the two decades prior to his arrival in Wiltshire as a founder member of both the Camden Town Group and the London Group, as well as his association with the Bloomsbury Set, in recent years light has been shed on his mid-career paintings, including a show at Messums Wiltshire in 2021.
Elsewhere, a late St Tropez landscape by the Fauve painter Charles Camoin (1879-1965) made a decent return for the vendor when it was knocked down at £65,000, around three times its previous price in 2016.
Camoin spent his later years living in Saint-Tropez and painted all along the Mediterranean coast. The sizeable 2ft 4in x 3ft (73 x 92cm) oil on canvas Le Golfe de Saint-Tropez (1948) is a fine example of his later work, showing the famous town framed between two pine trees.
According to Beer, the purchaser was a private collector who had not known the artist prior to receiving the sale catalogue and “loved the painting when they came to the view”.
Paul Henry classic
The top lot at Woolley & Wallis was a typical serene Irish landscape by Paul Henry (1876-1958) not seen publicly in nearly 40 years.
Containing all the main elements collectors look for in a Henry landscape – turf stacks, blue mountains and a vast sky with big chunky clouds – the 14 x 16in (36 x 40cm) oil on canvas was taken above estimate to £120,000, secured by a private buyer in a two-way battle with a dealer.
Other highlights included an Ismael de la Serna (1897-1968) oil, recently identified as depicting the imposing stone entrance to the Plaze de Toros in Ronda, knocked down to a buyer at £10,000, and a signed bird’s-eye-view cityscape by the prolific Polish artist Edward Dwurnik (1943-2018) taken to £12,000, four times its top estimate.