Duncan Grant painting beats estimate

A still-life painting by the celebrated Bloomsbury Group artist Duncan Grant (1885-1978) caught bidders’ eyes at a recent sale at Lawrences of Crewkerne in Somerset

Painted in 1929, it depicts a cluttered mantelpiece with a lidded urn, books and a clock (or jardiniere) alongside.

A still-life by Bloomsbury School artist Duncan Grant

This picture was early in date (Grant worked tirelessly for another half century after he had completed this work); it had been exhibited at the London Artists’ Association. It had been owned by the writer and keen Grant collector Sir Hugh Walpole (1884-1941), and it was sold by his executors at the prestigious Leicester Galleries in London during the period after VE day in May 1945.

In addition, the painting was in flawless condition, presented in a period frame and appearing on the market for the first time in over 75 years at the auction.

The auction house said that the picture had a technique that showed the swift accomplishment of a highly-skilled artist; the varied palette balanced subtle shadows with bright daylight from the left; and the almost humble arrangement ennobled the simpler aesthetic appeal of the objects depicted within. The whole picture had an air of studied informality: it was casual but careful, exacting but informal, and the whole design was as well observed as a Spanish `bodegón` still life of the 17th century.

Measuring 32 x 42cm (12.5 x 16.5”), it caught browsers’ eyes from across a crowded saleroom which helped it to a price of £11,250 against hopes of £8,000-10,000.