Cedric Morris Painting Proves Popular at Mallams’ Modern Art + Design Sale

Cedric Morris Painting Proves Popular at Mallams’ Modern Art + Design Sale


An oil painting by Cedric Morris (1889-1982) entitled ‘Flowers and Pears’ was highly contested at the 7 and 8 December Modern Art + Design Sale. Signed and dated 1946, lot 228 had hung in the vendor’s home since the artist gave it to him as a wedding present, and aroused great interest both in the room and online. Estimated at £20,000-£30,000, the final, winning bid of £36,000 came from a private UK buyer.

A striking oil on board (lot 272) entitled ‘St Ives from Barnoon’ by Bryan Pearce (1929-2006) also performed well. Coming to Mallams from The New Art Centre in London, it was signed and dated 1972 and achieved its lower estimate of £20,000, going to a private UK buyer.

Lot 215, ‘The Headland Gate’ painted by Edward Seago (1910-1974), was another popular lot. This oil on board came to Mallams from P & D Colnaghi and Co. Ltd., London, the oldest commercial art gallery in the world, and highly competitive bidding pushed the price well above its £5000-£8000 estimate, with the hammer finally falling at £9600 to a private UK bidder.

An unexpectedly high price was achieved for an Elizabeth ‘Cissie’ Kean (1871-1961) work entitled ‘Nude and Jug’ from the Robert Sadler collection (lot 254). Estimated at a very modest £100-£200, it clearly captured the imagination of bidders who became embroiled in a fierce battle to secure it. It took a bid of £7,600 from a private UK buyer for the other bidders to concede defeat.

Featured in day two, was lot 873 - an armchair by Gerald Summers (1899-1967). In 1929 Summers and his wife, Majorie Amy Butcher, started the company ‘Makers of Simple Furniture’ and began experimenting with free-form designs and malleable materials. Summers specialised in airplane plywood, which resulted in some of the most innovative designs of the period.

His seminal work of 1933-4, of which lot 873 is an example, took advantage of the wood's flexibility. Summers manipulated one piece of wood into a seamless seat, considered a Modernist masterpiece. With its smooth surface and absence of metal, it was originally designed for use in the tropics to withstand high humidity, however, the chair was only replicated 120 times because the production costs were too high.  This striking lot achieved a mid estimate hammer price of £10,000.

Overall, bidding was robust, with total sales of £415,000. Max Fisher, Head of Design and Modern Art, said “We were very pleased with the sale and there was a real premium on fresh-to-the-market works from private estates.”

Mallams is now inviting entries for its 2023 Modern Art + Design Sales so if you have any items you are considering selling at auction please email max@mallams.co.uk for a free, informal valuation. 

All prices are subject to a 30% buyers' premium (VAT inclusive). 

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