The Mantelpiece by Duncan Grant, £9000 at Lawrences of Crewkerne.

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The picture of a cluttered mantelpiece offered in a recent auction at Lawrences (25% buyer’s premium) of Crewkerne depicted a lidded urn, books and a clock (or jardiniere) and was appealingly early in date. Signed and dated 29, it was typical of the artist’s work in the late 1920s and early 1930s, executed in a swift and spontaneous manner and with a varied palette and subtle shadows.

The lidded vase was a familiar motif in Grant’s compositions from this period but, rather than being painted at the famous Bloomsbury retreat of Charleston in East Sussex, this work was thought more likely to have been executed either in London or at Vanessa Bell’s house in Cassis according to the auction house.

Having been exhibited at the London Artists’ Association, the 12½ x 16½in (32 x 42cm) oil on canvas was acquired by the writer and keen Grant collector Sir Hugh Walpole (1884-1941).

It was later sold by Walpole’s executors at the Leicester Galleries in 1945 and came to auction from a descendant of the purchaser.

While the Somerset saleroom demonstrated demand for Grant’s figurative subjects back in April – selling two late works for £21,000 and £16,000 respectively (see ATG No 2596) – here the reaction was a bit more mixed.

This was partly due to buyers generally favouring Grant’s figurative works but also the modest scale of the picture.

Estimated at £8000-10,000, it sold on mid-estimate.

Tasty pumpkin


The Green Pumpkin by Grant, £7500 at Dreweatts.

Another still-life which was larger but from a slightly later period appeared at Dreweatts (26% buyer’s premium) on July 11. Although it made a lower price, it generated a stronger competition and made a decent return for the vendor.

The Green Pumpkin, a 17¾ x 20¾in (46 x 53cm) signed oil on board from 1943, had previously sold for £2500 at Christie’s in 2008. Pitched here at £2000-3000, it was bid to a final £7500 – a sum indicating it had roughly doubled in value over the 15 years even accounting for inflation.