Auction  October 9, 2017  Barbara Basbanes Richter

The Trend Toward Modern British Artists

Barbara Hepworth

The secondary art market is seeing a steady increase in sales and prices for pieces by modern British artists, and that decade-old trend is likely to continue into 2018.

Back in June, six sales dedicated to Modern British artists took place in the United Kingdom, each yielding exciting results. The sales included artists like Op artist Bridget Riley, figurative painter Frank Auerbach, and perennial favorite David Hockney.

A painting completed by Cedric Morris (1892, 1989), the teacher of British portraitist and draftsman Lucien Freud (1922–2011) sold for roughly $220,000 at auction, sailing by its pre-sale estimate of $40,000. Mostly known for his rendering of flowers, Morris was also a renowned gardener, tending to extraordinary flower beds at Pound Farm in Suffolk.

Another summer smash was the sale of a sculpture by Barbara Hepworth (1903–1975). Entitled Curved Form (Bryher), the bronze piece had a pre-sale estimate of $250,000, but realized a final hammer price of $1,071,303 at Christie's London on June 26th.

Though there was some concern in the art-buying community that London was ceding its place as the premier destination for contemporary art buying, that fear has largely been dissuaded by the summer sales results. The recently concluded 20/21 British Art Fair, held from September 13–17 in London, welcomed more than 34 UK art dealers specializing exclusively in British Post War and Modern Art. Expect continued interest through the fall and winter sales.

About the Author

Barbara Basbanes Richter

Barbara Basbanes Richter writes for Fine Books & Collections magazine and Art & Object. She’s also a professional ghostwriter.