Extracted from Antiques Trade Gazette | Gabriel Berner
It has been a bullish year for Welsh art and antiques, according to auction house Rogers Jones (24% buyer’s premium), which broke the £1m barrier for the first time this year across three dedicated sales.
The latest Welsh Sale held on October 20 was also the highest total of the trio in 2018, bringing in just over £389,000.
Auctioneer Ben Rogers Jones said the success of these long-running auctions was down to “a staple of very popular 20th century Welsh artists, which in turn encourages a healthy and patriotic appetite for collecting”. Opening a second saleroom in Cardiff in 2013 has also been “instrumental”, he added.
While stalwart Kyffin Williams (1918-2006) led the way during the most recent sale, bringing in over £160,000 from around 30 pictures, a clutch of notable etchings caught the eye further down the price sheet.
Among them was a well-preserved portrait of a brooding Percy Wyndham Lewis by his Welsh mentor Augustus John (1878- 1961), dated to the year they met in 1903.
The signed 7 x 5½in (17 x 14cm) etching, a copy of which is also included in the collection at the National Portrait Gallery, was offered with a booklet on John published in 1974 by art dealership Colnaghi. It sold for £3000, six times its top guide.
The prints of Wales
Also offered was an early etching of a semi-derelict thatched cottage by Graham Sutherland (1903-80), showing the influence of 19th century landscapes on his early career. The English painter, who harboured a great love of the Welsh countryside, particularly Pembrokeshire, was a proficient printmaker long before he attempted painting in oils.
Sutherland’s early etchings tend to draw decent competition when they crop up at auction, although they make far less than his later oils. Last year, Sotheby’s London sold a group of five 1920s etchings, including an identical depiction of a semi-derelict cottage, for a premium-inclusive £12,500. The Rogers Jones etching improved on its attractive £200-300 guide to sell for £1000.