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Bonhams breaks world records in 20th century British and Irish sale held yesterday
An important painting by Frank Auerbach entitled E.O.W., Nude on Bed which achieved £780,450. Photo: Bonhams.

LONDON.- A new world auction record for a work on paper by Henry Moore was set by Bonhams yesterday (16th November) in the 20th Century British and Irish Art sale. Entitled Shelter Drawing: Seated Mother and Child, the work sold for £634,850, after much enthusiastic bidding. Executed in 1941, the work had only appeared a couple of times in public, including the Tate Gallery’s major retrospective of Henry Moore last year. The sale total was £4,150,000.

Another world record for a work on paper by Lowry was also set during the sale. A pencil drawing entitled Swinbury Station, executed in 1939 sold for £121,250, exceeding its presale estimate of £50,000 – 80,000. Swinbury Station was a testament to Lowry's skill as a draughtsman and had never been seen at auction before, having been gifted by the artist to the present owner's parents as an engagement present. The picture had been on loan to The Lowry in Salford since 2009.

New world auction records were also set for the celebrated artists Tristram Hillier, Gillian Ayres and Algernon Cecil Newton.

Further highlights included an important painting by Frank Auerbach entitled E.O.W., Nude on Bed which achieved £780,450. The painting was consigned from a North American Institution and was fresh to the market. E.O.W., Nude on Bed depicts Estella, a widowed amateur actress, and Auerbach’s lover for 23 years. One of his most regular models, she was referred to as E.O.W. in the titles of his works and it was with Estella that he started the process of working and reworking paintings, which sometimes took hundreds of sittings to complete. The picture was an excellent example of Auerbach’s method, and was executed on canvas rather than board.

A sculpture by Dame Elisabeth Frink, entitled Horse in the Rain V, numbered 3/8 sold for £289,250, exceeding the presale estimate of £120,000 – 180,000. Conceived in 1985, the bronze sculpture had remained in a private collection since 1986.

Stringed Reclining Figure, a bronze sculpture by Henry Moore conceived in 1939 sold for an impressive £283,350, over triple the high estimate.

Matthew Bradbury, Director of the 20th Century British Department comments, “Bonhams are delighted to have offered so many works that were fresh to the market. The works within the sale, representing outstanding examples of quality and craftsmanship received much international interest, demonstrated by the world records achieved on the day.”

Irish highlights within the Bonhams sale included an unusual subject by Paul Henry A.H.A, one of Ireland’s most influential landscape artists, entitled Running for Shelter that sold for £175,250. The painting appeared in the artist’s annual exhibition in Dublin, where The Irish Times (12 November, 1938), noted Henry’s 'emotional response' to the landscape, his 'sense of being alone with nature', and singled out the Running for Shelter picture.

A previously undiscovered painting by Jack Butler Yeats entitled A Giant Reading sold for £85,250 after remaining in the same private collection since the work’s execution.”

Penny Day, Director of the Irish Art Department comments, “Almost half a million pounds was achieved for the Irish art in yesterdays London sale of ‘20th Century British & Irish Art’. Prices such as £175,250 for Paul Henry’s ‘Running for Shelter’ and £85,250 for ‘Giant reading’ by Jack B Yeats are encouraging and show that the market for fresh to auction, quality pictures remains strong. We are delighted that five of the works will be returning to Ireland.”

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