Posted on: 23 February 2024

February Auction Cooks up a Storm

In the strike-bound, power-cut plagued Britain of the 1970s, there emerged an artist whose joyful, bold and colourful depictions of larger-than-life women having fun, were a ray of light in an otherwise drab world.  Beryl Cook OBE captured people of all ages and backgrounds doing everyday things, and her work became instantly iconic, so we were delighted to offer a very special collection of her work in our two day February Fine Art and Antiques auction.

Beryl Cook (British, 1926-2008),
‘Shopping with Robin’, sold for £8,500

“During her lifetime, Cook’s original paintings were collected avidly by her loyal fans as soon as they went on sale, and they don’t come to market very often” said Art valuer Simon Grover, “So it was a wonderful surprise to be contacted by a vendor and asked to appraise their Beryl Cook collection, which included an original oil on canvas. Her wonderfully self-deprecating attitude towards her work is very refreshing, of her fame, she once said ‘People say to me that I am the most popular artist in England but I don’t take a blind bit of notice’”

The painting was titled ‘Shopping with Robin’ and it showed an excited young boy leading his mum downstairs in a shopping centre, but most viewers seem drawn to the Roland Rat backpack worn by a child heading in the opposite direction.  Whether it was Roland that inspired the ensuing bidding battle is unclear, but three telephone bidders were pitched against numerous internet bidders, driving the work far past its £6000 high estimate, to an eventual sale price of £8500 (plus fees), despite having suffered some damage due to being in long term storage.  The vendor’s five limited edition Beryl Cook prints also sold well, and the collection made a total of £10,000 (plus fees).

A 19th century diamond crescent brooch, possibly by Wartski, sold for £3,200

Continuing the ‘Beryl’ theme of the auction, a 25 carat aquamarine stone, which is also known gemologically as a member of the Beryl family (which also includes emeralds), made £1000 (plus fees) and formed part of the highly successful jewellery section of the auction.  ‘Day one of the auction took place on Valentines Day, so it was no surprise to see jewellery performing strongly’ commented specialist Amelia Tomkinson,  ‘a spectacular 19th century diamond crescent brooch, possibly by Wartski, sold for £3200 (plus fees), as did a gorgeous mid 20th century diamond and untested pearl ‘toi et moi’ ring, while a beautiful 18th century intaglio ring sold well above its estimate at £3000.  I like to think that all these pieces became special gifts for a special someone’.  

A George III housekeepers cupboard which sold for £2,200

Day two of the auction saw furniture come under the hammer, and standout pieces included an impressive George III oak housekeepers cupboard, which sold for £2200 (plus fees).  ‘As well as its impressive scale, what sold this piece was its lovely honeyed patina which took around 250 years to develop’ said furniture valuer Ian Woodward, ‘it’s the kind of unique look that new furniture just can’t replicate’.

Speaking after the auction, Christina Trevanion said, ‘as we began putting together the catalogue for our February auction I was thrilled to see the breadth and the depth of the range of lots we were offering.  There were some truly beautiful pieces, and it was a pleasure to bring them to market, particularly on Valentines Day!’

If you have pieces you are looking at selling or are curious to find out what your items could be worth, you can book a free no obligation auction valuation appointment on 01948 800 202 or