Recently conferred 'sleeper' status on work by British artist confirmed by sale price at Menzies Melbourne auction
July Flowers and Wood Warblers exploded like fireworks in the evening sky at Menzies winter auction in Melbourne on 10 August, as the 1929 flower and bird painting (lot 12) by British artist Cedric Morris netted more than $280,000 (including buyer’s premium) on a high estimate of only $12,000. That is more than 20 times the estimate!
Morris dwelt on the artworld periphery in rural Suffolk in the 1920s, where he gardened, entertained the likes of Lucien Freud and New Zealand’s Frances Hodgkins and painted richly decorative flower studies. His works exude the fabric of the 1920s, with a naiveté and a sensual playfulness that Menzies buyers clearly found refreshing.
Ten telephone lines from all over the world battled over this modest little painting to register a new world record for Morris, establishing his credentials as ‘substance’ over ‘fashion’.