Nude study of a young man catalogued as ‘manner of Henry Scott Tuke’, £20,000 at Batemans.

Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

Charity shop donations can produce some notable sums at auction, as a couple of sales proved at the tail-end of last year.

One was a figural study of a male nude which was handed into Oxfam in Stamford, Lincolnshire. Suspecting it might be something more than a run-of-mill decorative picture, a volunteer from the charity brought it to local saleroom Batemans (20% buyer’s premium) in a carrier bag along with a number of other works.

On first sight of the painting which came in a gilt gesso frame, managing director Greg Bateman said: “It’s Tuke!” The 15½ x 113¾in (39 x 30cm) oil on panel was certainly very much in keeping with the style and subjects of British Impressionist Henry Scott Tuke (1858-1929). It also carried the stamp of the Kensington gallery Rowley on the back.

In fact, the sitter who was depicted crouching down and looking off to the left was thought to resemble Charlie Mitchell, Tuke’s boat handler, who appeared in a number of small studies and beach scenes by the artist. He was Tuke’s boatman for 30 years and the artist left him £1000 in his will.

Judging by the age of the sitter, it was thought to date from c.1915.

Bateman said: “With the laws surrounding donations, we effectively had no background to it at all, and I was desperate to ask the original owner how it came to be in their possession, and why you would give such a lovely piece of art away.”

He added: “It wasn’t signed, I didn’t have much provenance that would really help, and I’m not a world expert on Tuke! I did, however, have some very good assistance from a London gallery owner who helped me mull over how exactly to proceed.”

The auction house chose to take a cautious approach, cataloguing it as ‘manner of Henry Scott Tuke’ for the auction on December 2 and giving it an estimate of £400-600. It generated plenty of pre-sale interest, being the most-watched lot across all platforms and with nearly 50 ‘watchers’ on

With the lot opening at £520, it drew eight different bidders including one on the phone and – after no fewer than 88 bids – it was eventually knocked down at £20,000 to a UK collector. The buyer will now attempt to pin down a firm attribution, while proceeds from the sale will go to Oxfam.

Although Tuke pictures of male nudes can certainly fetch more, the price was within the kind of range that many small studies by Tuke have previously fetched at auction. The sum also represents a house record for a painting at Batemans, surpassing the £12,000 for a farmyard scene by Trajan Hughes (b.1670) offered in 2014.

Bateman said he hoped for a full-sized Tuke to wander through the door in January. “That might be my New Year’s wish in fact…”

Moore at the double


Double-sided work on paper by Henry Moore on the theme of the seated mother and child, £20,000 at Forum Auctions.

Another charity shop discovery, albeit one found rather earlier, was on offer at Forum (25% buyer’s premium) on December 14.

The Henry Moore (1898-1986) sketch was purchased by the vendor in a charity shop 20 years ago, believing it to be a print.

Featuring four studies of a mother and child seated (a common theme in the artist’s work), the 11½ x 9in (29 x 23cm) sheet was brought to a routine valuation at the south London auction house by the owner. On inspection after it was taken out of the frame, it was soon realised that this was not a print but instead an original work executed in pen, ink and wax crayon with a watercolour wash (a typical medium for the artist’s works on paper), while Moore’s signature was identified to the lower right.

Another drawing was also discovered on the back, a single but fainter sketch on the same theme.


Double-sided work on paper by Henry Moore on the theme of the seated mother and child, £20,000 at Forum Auctions.

The sheet was sent to the Henry Moore Foundation which, after two years of research, confirmed the attribution and will now feature it in the organisation’s upcoming catalogue raisonné of the artist’s work.

Believed to date from c.1947-49, the sheet had numerous trademark features but the fact that it was executed on both sides was highly unusual. While the ‘front’ side with the four studies was highly worked and showed the figures at different perspectives, the larger study on the back was a more delicate depiction with a muted colour palette.

Estimated at £20,000-30,000 at Forum’s The British Sale on December 14, it was knocked down on the low estimate to a UK private collector.

Editions and works on paper specialist at Forum Eleanor Garthwaite said: “Discoveries such as this are few and far between and it certainly was a special moment when the Henry Moore Foundation finished two years of research to declare that it was indeed an original artwork by the artist. We are thrilled that it will be given its true pride of place with a new owner and in the upcoming catalogue raisonné.”