Evening in The Village Square sold at five times its top guide at £4000, an apparently new record for the artist at auction, eclipsing the premium-inclusive £4000 paid last year at Christie’s for a view of the Lake District at sunrise.
Consigned privately from a family with Scottish ancestry, the 18½ x 22in (47 x 57cm) oil on canvas shows dark figures dotted around a square, illuminated by the lights from shop windows.
BHL picture specialist Daniel Goddard said the canvas depicted a “socially interesting period, feel and subjects”, and the light and composition had been “very skilfully painted”.
Given the painting’s date of 1908, the location could be Audlem village near Nantwich, where the artist lived for four years after marrying fellow Liverpudlian artist Enid Rutherford in 1907. He is known to have painted several oils of the village and surrounding area during his time there.
Hay later exhibited with the Camden Town Group at the Brighton Art Gallery in 1913-14, two years before his death at the age of just 42.