Sworders auction: Prices rising for Essex inspired art

Edward Bawden's linocut of The Road to Thaxted was sold by Sworders auctioneers in Stansted, Essex

Edward Bawden's linocut of The Road to Thaxted was sold by Sworders - Credit: Bawden/Sworders

Artwork created in Essex has realised strong prices at auction house Sworders.

The Modern and Contemporary Art sale at the Stansted Mountfitchet saleroom on April 5 included works by members of both the art communities in Great Bardfield, Essex and Benton End, Suffolk. 

The Benton End and Great Bardfield ‘schools’ were located roughly 50 miles apart but shared many like-minded artists and a similar timescale.

Both came into fruition in the mid-1930s and survived as avant-garde artistic hubs until the 1970s.

Linocut by Edward Bawden called Ives Farm, Great Bardfield, 1957 was sold by Sworders of Stansted, Essex

Linocut by Edward Bawden called Ives Farm, Great Bardfield, 1957 was sold in Sworders modern and contemporary art sale - Credit: Bawden/Sworders

Edward Bawden's Ives Farm, Great Bardfield, 1957, showing a farmer, cattle and birds had an estimate of £1,500 to £2,500 and sold for £4,100.

Edward Bawden's linocut of The Road to Thaxted was sold by Sworders auctioneers in Stansted, Essex

Edward Bawden's linocut of The Road to Thaxted was sold by Sworders - Credit: Bawden/Sworders

His work called The Road to Thaxted, from 1960 and showing the front of a farmhouse as a policeman cycles by, was estimated at £3,000 to £5,000 and sold for £10,400.

Amy Scanlon, Head of Modern and Contemporary Art at Sworders, said: “Both were quintessential Bawden linocuts and made in relatively small editions – Ives Farm numbered 32 of 35 and The Road the Thaxted 33 of 55.

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"However, the latter brought a particularly strong sum as it is a rare impression and, unlike the earlier editions, shows more vibrant colours.”

The presence of such artistic heavyweights like Bawden in the village encouraged the arrival of other artists, such as John Aldridge.

John Aldridge's work called Roadside Cottage, Thaxted dated 1968 was sold by Sworders, Stansted, Essex

John Aldridge's work called Roadside Cottage, Thaxted dated 1968 was sold by Sworders - Credit: Aldridge/Sworders

His oil on board Roadside Cottage, Thaxted, 1968 was guided at £1,000 to £1,500. It sold for £3,900.

Bluegate Hall Farm, an oil on panel inscribed with title and dated January 1952 verso made £9,100.

The sale had more than 20 works by Benton End artists which also sold well including Arthur Lett-Haines, Lucy Harwood, Joan Warburton, Denise Broadley, Waverney Frederick and Paul Earee.

A watercolour by Lett-Haines depicting one of the garden's borders Jardin d’Artiste, signed and dated 1969, more than doubled expectations at £5,400.

Other pieces sold included Lett-Haines' 1966 watercolour Estuary (£340), a mixed media composition titled An Abstract of French Inspiration from 1965 (£1,520) and the pencil drawing Vamos! Los Hombres, Let's get out of here boys (£310).

Amy Scanlon added: “A decade ago when Sworders first began to champion these lesser-known artists their work could be bought for relatively modest sums.

"Now we are beginning to see them reach their fruition in the auction room.”