15/07/2022 General News
Marc Knighton of Keys Fine Art Auctioneers says that works by East Anglian artists are in great demand in the saleroom.
With its big skies, picturesque countryside and pure light, it is little surprise that East Anglia acts as a magnet for artists – and it has always held that allure. The result is a rich heritage of East Anglian art, a heritage which is increasingly recognised around the world – and is leading to strong demand for works from our regional artists, both contemporary and long-gone.
We should be really proud that our region has gained a reputation worldwide for producing top-quality visual art, and this is reflected in the prices being achieved in the auction room, as well as the increasingly wide geographical spread of buyers for such work.
Keys’ East Anglian Art Sale, which takes place three times a year, has become the most important auction of such works, and is now acknowledged amongst both collectors and dealers as the main event for sourcing East Anglian art.
Of course, the star names will always be in demand; pictures by Edward Seago regularly sell for five figure sums, and bidders will always clamour for works by Campbell Mellon, Arnesby-Brown and Eloise Stannard.
What sets East Anglian art apart though is the level of demand at all levels, from the stars, through the Norwich School artists such as Crome and Cotman, Norwich 20 group members such as Leslie Davenport and Henley Curl, to contemporary artists such as Colin Burns (one of whose paintings sold for £6,600 in Keys’ spring East Anglian Sale), Ian Houston and Maggie Hambling – they are all enjoying high levels of interest at the moment.
The nice thing about our East Anglian Art Sale is the mixture of people buying. What you might call serious collectors rub shoulders with private buyers who simply want something to hang on their wall at home. It is telling that this is our most attended sale during the year, with a higher proportion of buyers in the room (as opposed to bidding online) than for any other sale.
What are they looking for? What does particularly well? Obviously the well-known artists will always attract attention, but the subject matter is important in determining demand as well. If people recognise or can relate to what is in the picture, its value will be higher; for example, paintings of Norwich by Arthur Davies always sell well, as do the Broadland views of Stephen John Batchelder.
In Keys’ summer East Anglian Art Sale, ten works by Sheringham-abased artist Brian Edwards will go under the hammer. A former Professor of Architecture at Edinburgh University, Edwards now paints watercolours and acrylics of recognisable Norfolk scenes, and his colourful and modern style means that his work is always popular. The good thing is that it is still affordable: pre-sale estimates for the works by him in our July sale range from £300 to £600.
With demand for works by East Anglian artists currently riding so high, now is a good time to be selling. There are several ‘outsider’ auction houses that claim to be East Anglian Art specialists, but Keys is a Norfolk-based firm that can really offer something more than the major London houses. We can combine specialist knowledge of our region’s art with a reach that nowadays, thanks to the internet, stretches every bit as far as the big London names.
Keys Fine Art Auctioneers’ East Anglian Art Sale takes place on Friday 29th July at their Aylsham salerooms. The catalogue is available online at www.keysauctions.co.uk.