LAWRENCES’ 345-lot Autumn auction of pictures and prints comprised a variety of subjects from a span of five centuries.

Although the sale’s top prices were paid for 20th Century works, a Company School watercolour of a vulture had bidders flocking towards it like, well, vultures. `Company School` pictures were the work of artists working in an Indo-European style for patrons in the British East India Company in the 18th- and 19th Centuries. The detailed watercolour was drawn for Arthur Annesley, 11th Viscount Valentia and was bid to £10,000.

The top price for a print was the £6,875 paid for a signed offset lithograph of L S Lowry’s `Industrial Panorama`, published in 1972 but a selection of other strong prices for pictures by 20th Century artists reflects the strength of demand. A fine oil on canvas of the Dorset coast near Lulworth by Roger Fry dated from 1912 and was consigned for sale from a deceased’s estate. It doubled expectations to take £14,375 and the other pictures from the estate totalled over £57,000. A scene of barges moored at Pin Mill near Ipswich by Edward Seago sailed to £15,000.

There was a big surprise for the seller of a picture by little-known Hilda Davis, an artist who flourished in the 1930s-1950s but who has never made more than about £900 at auction. Her oil painting of a family listening to the treacherous broadcasts of `Lord Haw Haw` (William Joyce) in 1940 vastly exceeded any previous auction price by her and made £32,500.

The sale ended on a high note as a beautiful but bruised still life of flowers by Winifred Nicholson. This skilfully composed and meticulously coloured nature study was painted in about 1930 and came to auction from descendants of Lady Horlick who had bought it from a London exhibition nearly 90 years ago. Such good early works by Nicholson are in great demand and are rarely seen at auction. Although the canvas had suffered a little from heat and damp during half a century in Australia, it surpassed hopes of £30,000 to make £60,000.