Auctioneer Henry Wyndham brings the hammer down on the most expensive Modern British work sold in 2014, L.S. Lowry’s Piccadilly Circus, London, selling for £5,122,500.

LONDON - 2014 was a remarkable year for Modern & Post-War British Art at Sotheby’s, with sales totalling over £47.5 million. Offering works from our field in eight separate sales – two of which were ‘white glove’ sales (with all lots sold) – we set new auction records for a number of the leading names of the field, and brought the hammer down on some of the most important fresh-to-market works sold in recent years.

L.S. Lowry’s Piccadilly Circus, London sold for £5,122,500, the highest price for a Modern British work in 2014.

There can be no doubt that 2014 was the year of the ‘single-owner’ sale, beginning in March with 1000 Ways of Seeing: The Private Collection of the Late Stanley J. Seeger and LOWRY: The A.J. Thompson Collection – the latter being the finest private collection of works by L.S. Lowry assembled in the past thirty years. In the year of Lowry’s first major solo overseas show at The Art Museum of Nanjing University of the Arts in Jiangsu province, the sale achieved a total of over £15 million, and was led by the magnificent Piccadilly Circus, London, which sold for £5,122,500, the highest price for a Modern British work sold in 2014. In total we sold 19 paintings by the artist for a combined total of over £18.6 million, clearly leading the market for works by Lowry in 2014.

Keith Vaughan’s The Bar II sold for £290,500, the highest price for a work by the artist in 2014.

The year was brought to a close with three further ‘single-owner’ sales: A Way of Life: The Tim Ellis Collection of Modern British Art, the first of our ‘white-glove’ sales; Eric Gill – The Felix Dennis Collection, which displayed the full range of Gill’s unique vision and artistry across all media; and Daughter of History: Mary Soames and the Legacy of Churchill, the personal collection of Winston Churchill’s youngest daughter. Another ‘white-glove’ auction, the sale attracted unprecedented coverage and international bidding from over 24 different countries, achieved over four times the low estimate and broke the auction record for a work by Churchill twice in one evening.

Sir Winston Spencer Churchill’s The Goldfish Pool at Chartwell sold for £1,762,500, a record for the artist at auction.

2014 also saw the run-away success of our now bi-annual Made In Britain sale – a celebration of the diversity and innovative spirit of British art, design, printmaking, photography and studio ceramics. With prices ranging from as little as £400, the sale doubled its low estimate to achieve an impressive total of £2.3million, and set a number of new auction records for both modern and contemporary British artists, including the record for a multiple by Bridget Riley.

Made In Britain
, March 2014. Featuring Bridget Riley’s Untitled (Fragment 2) (S.5b), achieving £40,000 – a record for a multiple by the Artist at auction and Gabriele Koch’s Tall black stoneware vase – achieving £2,000 – a record for the artist at auction.

Alongside these sales our June and November sales of Modern & Post-War British Art achieved consistently impressive results for some of Britain’s most recognised artists, including L.S. Lowry’s Station Approach, Manchester, Edward Burra’s Marriage à la Mode and Striptease, Harlem and  Sir Anthony Caro’s Strait.

Edward Burra’s Striptease, Harlem sold for £842,500, the highest price for a work by the artist in 2014.

With exceptional provenance from collections including the renowned Modernist architect Eugene Rosenberg and New York gallerist André Emmerich, we set further auction records for artists including Leon Kossoff, Roger Hilton and Reg Butler, whose elegant Woman Standing was sold to benefit the acquisitions fund at the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Leon Kossoff’s Willesden Junction sold for £206,500, a record for a work on paper by the artist at auction.

2015 is already shaping up to being another great year for Modern & Post-War British Art, both in our saleroom, including our upcoming 25th March Made In Britain sale, and in the wider world, with a number of major museum retrospectives coming up, including Tate’s major Barbara Hepworth retrospective, Dulwich Picture Gallery’s major survey of Eric Ravilious and Pallant House Gallery’s  focus on Walter Sickert’s work in Dieppe. Of course there is also still time to catch shows closing soon, including Allen Jones at the Royal Academy, Colquhoun and MacBryde at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art and Stanley Spencer’s Heaven in a Hell of War at Manchester City Art Gallery all showcasing the breadth, diversity and innovation within the ever-expanding field of Modern British Art.

Made In Britain, 25th March 2015. Dame Lucie Rie, Large Bowl, £10,000 – 15,000. Dame Lucie Rie, An Impressive Fluted Bowl, £12,000 – 18,000.