Keeping it in the family

29th November 2021

A collection of works by a unique family of artists in Sussex has sold at auction for just over £34,000.

The Burleigh family were active during the first half of the 20th century and their work embodies a variety of styles that were fashionable at the time. Husband and wife team, Charles and Averil, were regular exhibitors at the Royal Academy and the Royal Institute and their works were exhibited widely across their native Sussex.

“Charles was more of a traditionalist, working in oils with a skilful academic manner, while Averil’s work was more graphic and stylised,” said Paintings specialist, Victor Fauvelle, who is handling the collection. “Her early work is heavily influenced by Romanticism, but after 1918 she began painting with tempera and adopting more medieval themes.”

The Burleighs’ daughter, Veronica, was influenced by both parents, showing the naturalism of her father combined with the more modern approach of her mother. Together the family would travel, painting landscapes together, and scenes of traditional life in different countries, several of which are represented in the collection being sold.

“The collection belonged to Peter and Mary Grant who became friends with Veronica after years of collecting the work of the Burleigh family,” explained Fauvelle. “She stayed with them at their house in Oxfordshire, and a painting of that house was included in the auction.” (Lot 200)

During and after the Second World War, painting supplies were difficult to obtain and the family moved to painting in watercolours. The collection includes several examples of watercolour landscapes by Averil, and an Art Deco style portrait of the Ballet Russe dancer, Nijinsky.

“A high number of the works by all three members of the Burleigh family remain in private collections and seldom come onto the open market,” said Fauvelle. “It’s extremely rare for this many works to be sold at once and we hope that they will attract the interest that they deserve.”

The collection was sold as part of the Modern British and 20th Century Art auction at Woolley and Wallis in Salisbury on Tuesday 7th December.

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