Theodore Major 'Workmen' painting auctions for $55,000

British artist Theodore Major's painting Eight Workmen in the Rain has auctioned for £36,250 ($54,774) at Christie's London (July 11).

Theodore Major
Eight Workmen in the Rain

Estimated to be worth £15,000, the work sold with a strong 141.7% increase on valuation.

Major, who died in January 1999, may not have been as pleased with the result as Christie's, however, having famously refused to sell his paintings "to the people who want them, rich people".

Largely self-taught, Major retained around 3,000 of his crepuscular canvases, which feature grim depictions of factories, Wigan streets and dramatic seascapes, exhibiting them for free in the house next door to his own.

Art critic and novelist John Berger hails the artist's works as "among the best English paintings of our time".

Values pertaining to the individualist artist's works have soared of late.

In 2003, an expansive oil on board entitled Dark and Light sold for £5,000 ($7,565) at Bonhams. Yet in 2006, a comparable artwork, featuring a snowy factory scene, made £22,800 ($34,495) at Sotheby's - testament to the artist's growing reputation.

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