The Staithes Group was a small rural painting community named after the fishing village located 30 miles up the road from the auction house. It was drawn together by a love of Impressionist art at the end of the 19th century, finding inspiration in the everyday lives of fisherfolk in the isolated communities along that stretch of coast.
Nearly 40 lots from the group featured in the Spring Art sale on March 23, led by a trademark 9 x 13in (23 x 33cm) oil on board by local painter Mark Senior (1862- 1927). Titled Fisherfolk, it was knocked down to a local buyer on the phone for £7800 against a £3000-5000 guide.
Driven by local demand, Senior’s pictures have grown in value over the last few years, particularly his coastal views of nearby Runswick Bay, which have made in excess of £20,000 on several occasions since 2013.
David Duggleby said: "The Senior is similar in style to other views of Runswick dating from around 1900, a more well known example is Fishermen Tending Lobster Pots [sold at Bonhams Leeds in November 2004 for a premium-inclusive £7755]. The picture was consigned from a Scottish collector to sell in our special section of Staithes Group artists, it was a classic Runswick picture with plenty of strong colour."
The same local collector also secured an attractive 6 x 10in (16 x 25cm) watercolour, painted before 1903 by Laura Knight (1877-1970).
In ‘ready to hang’ condition, the picture had come from a private collection of Staithes Group works acquired in the 1980s and sold for a multi-estimate £2900.
Owen Bowen (1873-1967), another noted but less commercial Staithes Group artist, was represented in the sale by a 23in x 2ft 11in (59 x 90cm) oil on canvas of the moors above Whitby, populated with sheep and figures.
Last offered on the market in 1984, the painting sold at David Duggleby this time around to the trade for £4100 – an encouraging sum for an artist whose prices have softened somewhat since the 1980s and early ‘90s.