Hertfordshire County Council's artworks fetch £444,000 at auction
PUBLISHED: 08:32 27 March 2019 | UPDATED: 08:32 27 March 2019
Pieces from Hertfordshire County Council's art collection have raised more than £444,000 at auction.
The local authority took the decision to sell, or give away, hundreds of artworks from its 1,828-piece collection in 2017, and the first 152 items have gone under the hammer at Cheffins auction house in Cambridge.
Many sold for sums far in excess of their estimates.
Councillor Terry Douris, executive member for education, libraries and localism, said: “It’s fantastic the sale has raised more than we expected.
“The money raised can be used to improve the condition and public visibility of the nationally-significant sculptures we hold.
“The council will also invest in its retained collection and we are developing plans to increase its accessibility and improve display and interpretation.”
The artwork to sell for the highest price was John Tunnard’s Brandis 1944, which fetched £37,000 – well over its estimate of £10,000 to £15,000.
Anne Redpath’s Blue Plate sold for £31,000 – three times its lower estimate.
A pastel by Scottish artist Joan Eardley raised £31,000 and Keith Vaughan’s Grey Shore Seascape was sold for £27,000.
Auctioneer Brett Trynor said: “This sale generated mass attention from collectors, dealers and the media, particularly as the selection on offer included some of the most well-known names in British 20th century art.
“Many of these artworks were offered to the public for the first time and this auction has really set the bar for the values for these important mid-century painters.
“Buyers included collectors from the UK and overseas, institutions, the trade and also purchasers from Hertfordshire.”
The council began buying artworks in 1949, so they could be loaned to Herts schools.
It is now an extensive collection of public art with an estimated value of up to £26.2 million.
The four most valuable sculptures – with an estimated value of £21.86 million – have not been earmarked for disposal.
In June last year a 1,500-signature petition called for the disposal plans to be halted and ways to fund and manage the collection explored, but to no avail.
A further 300 items from the council’s art collection are due to be offered for sale by Cheffins on April 25 and May 23.