Sold on five pictures and a book

From the thousands of lots that appear at auctions every week on, here we focus on four lots bought by online bidders recently.

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Two still lives by Lucy Harwood, £4500 at Anderson & Garland.

1. Two Lucy Harwood pictures

The auction at Newcastle-upon-Tyne firm Anderson & Garland on January 23 included works consigned by the family of Mary Cookson, an artist born in 1923 who studied at the East Anglian School of Painting and Drawing. In addition to six oils by current market favourite Cedric Morris (1889-1982) - all either purchased directly from Morris or through The Ixion Society, the Ipswich gallery that represented him - were a group of pictures by Lucy Harwood (1893-1972). 

A Slade student in her youth, she became one of the East Anglian School's longest serving students, attending from its opening in Denham in 1937 and later moving to a nearby village when the school moved to Benton End in 1940. A central figure in the school social life (she insisted on a formal afternoon tea every Sunday) Harwood’s naive style of painting was admired for its vivid colour and thick confident brushstrokes. She had her first solo exhibition at The Minories, Colchester in 1975 and had further shows at Sally Hunter Fine Art.

The oils offered by Anderson & Garland performed well above the modest guides published in the catalogue. A 2ft 6in x 2ft 1in (75 x 62cm) Continental street scene, probably Montmartre in Paris, sold at £2500 (estimate £50-90) while a smaller view of dockers working the Thames waterfront, that was signed, inscribed and dated 1939, took £3000 (estimate £100-180). Sold at £4500 to a buyer using (estimate £60-100) was this lot of two still lives, one with a Champagne bottle, the other with a vase of yellow narcissus, each measuring 20 x 16in (50 x 40cm). 

2. Victorian portrait

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A portrait of the artist’s daughter by John Bagnold Burgess, £3000 at Semley Auctioneers.

The Victorian artist John Bagnold Burgess (1829-97), grandson of a painter who counted Thomas Gainsborough among his pupils, was best known as a painter of genre scenes. Many of these very Victorian subjects with titles such as Bravo Toro (1865), Stolen by Gypsies (1868) or Kissing Relics (1869) were set in Spain where Burgess was an annual visitor for 30 years. Portraits of Spanish beauties were his stock in trade. 

This portrait, offered for sale at Semley Auctioneers in Shaftesbury on January 25, offered a different view of the artist’s oeuvre. Titled Ethel Burgess and dated 1871, a label and inscription verso suggests the sitter is the artist’s daughter who would later become Lady Knapp-Fisher. Offered for sale as ‘the property of a lady’, the 15 x 12in (39 x 30cm) oil in original gilt frame was pitched at £150-250 but found plenty of admirers before selling at £3000 to a buyer using

3. New Testament bible

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The title page of the Rheims–Douai Bible sold at Mallams on January 29.

Upon the accession of Elizabeth I in 1558 and the embrace of the Protestant Reformation, a number of Catholics fled to the Continent - some of them founding the English College at Douai in 1568.

It was there, supervised by the Oxford scholar and ordained priest Gregory Martin (c.1542-1582), that an English translation of the Bible was prepared from the original Latin and Greek, one that would "presume not to mollify the [Bible's] speeches or phrases, but religiously keep them word for word, and point for point, for fear of missing or restraining the sense of the Holy Ghost to our fancy.”

The New Testament was published in the last months of 1582, during a temporary migration of the English College to Rheims. The orient run was only a few hundred and all were published in quarto form. As funds were tight, a two-volume Old Testament published ‘in Doway [sic] by Laurence Kellam at the signe of the holie lambe’ did not appear until much later, in 1609-10.

The New Testament was reprinted in 1600, 1621 and 1633. The Old Testament volumes were reprinted in 1635 but neither thereafter for another century or more.

Relatively few early printings have survived, but copies of both books, now in later tooled calf bindings, were offered as part of the Oxford Library Sale conducted by Mallams on January 29. Estimated at just £100-150, they sold at £6200 to a buyer using

4. Sri Lankan landscapes


One of two scenes of Sri Lankan life by Alexander Sofronoff - £2600 at Bridport Auctions.

A buyer using bid £2600 (estimate £100-150) for this pair of oils by Russian emigre artist Alexander Sofronoff (1901-48) at Bridport Auctions in Dorset on January 31. 

Sofronoff is well-known for these scenes of Sri Lankan life. Having fled the Bolsheviks in 1922 for life as a set designer in Manchuria, at the onset of the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1936 he moved again, first to Shanghai and then to Sri Lanka. 

Sofronoff found life in Columbo to his liking and found employment as an art teacher and painter of island river landscapes and portraits of British ex-pats resident at the Galle Face Hotel.

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