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Record prices for Abstract and Modern British masterpieces at Sotheby's London
William Turnbull, Large Horse, bronze, numbered 2/5. Estimate: 200,000 - 300,000. Sold for: £614,500 ($1,010,975). Photo: Sotheby's.

LONDON.- Record breaking sales took place last night as Abstraction and Modern & Post-War British Art Evening Sales fetched a total of £6,113,350, bringing the combined total, with today’s Day Sale results, to £7,927,725 (est. £5,838,000-8,911,000).

The top lot of last night’s sale was a supreme work by Patrick Heron, Atmospheric Strata (1958) from ‘Abstraction’, a group of works offered from the David Thomson Collection - the best collection of its kind ever to come to the market. Exceptional paintings by Patrick Heron, William Scott, Roger Hilton, Alan Davie and Peter Lanyon attracted international bidding for works that encapsulate the significant contribution of British artists to the international development of post-war abstract painting.

In presenting ‘Abstraction’ at this moment in time, David Thomson alongside Sotheby’s Modern & Post-War British Art experts sought to restore to these artists the international standing they enjoyed back in the 1950s and 60s when their works were the latest word in contemporary art.

Timothy Prus, from the David Thomson Collection, comments, “We are very happy indeed with the sale results. This collaboration with Sotheby’s – intended to inspire a deeper appreciation for these artists - was a wonderful experience and its success was reflected in the enthusiasm with which collectors responded, with all the works sold exceeding their estimates. Those who placed winning bids will, I am sure, be delighted with the works they now own, and there is also a certain momentum in the growing regard for and enjoyment of works by these artists, which we will be following with great interest.”

Frances Christie, Head of Sotheby’s Modern & Post-War British Art Department, said “We are extremely pleased with the strong sale results. It was particularly exciting to see how outstanding examples of Modern & Post-War British art, especially those from the David Thomson Collection, attracted new bidders and enticed established collectors who were already active in other categories to buy. There is much talk in today’s market of a globalised art world, and this is in many ways a reflection of the exchange of ideas across oceans that took place between the artists themselves in the immediate Post-War period. It was thrilling to see an international exchange - private collectors from right across Europe, North America and Asia - played out between bidders in the sale.”


· A record price was achieved for a work on paper by Bridget Riley when Dark Green and Blue with Red Added, Plain Diagonal (1979) soared above its high estimate and sold for £338,500.

· Another Record was achieved for sculptor William Turnbull when his monumental work Large Horse (1988-9) fetched £614,500, more than triple its pre-sale low estimate and smashing the previous record of £187, 200

· A record price of £278,500 for Eric Gill’s Contortionist, nearly double the previous world record of £145,250.

The sale continued with a strong price for Edward Burra - the only famous British artist to have embraced and introduced black culture to British art in the 1930s - with the sale of his watercolour Savoy Ballroom, Harlem, which captures the lively scene at one of the first racially integrated public places in the US. The painting fetched £542,500.

Further sale highlights include Forecourt (1975),the largest of Patrick Caulfield’s monumental interior paintings ever to come to the market – previously featured as the centrepiece of the 2013 Tate Britain survey of the artist’s work – which sold for £446,500.

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