WORK by an internationally acclaimed group of artists from the Braintree area is going under the hammer this week.

More than 420 pieces of art from Hertfordshire County Council’s extensive collection are up for grabs, including paintings by some of Essex’s most renowned artists.

The council started acquiring its prized collection of 1,828 pieces back in 1949 as part of a post-war initiative called the School Loan Collection.

The aim was to gather an array of paintings from British artists and then lend them to schools in a bid to expose pupils to contemporary art.

Eleven pieces from a community of artists called the Great Bardfield Artists are among the 428 lots being auctioned.

The group lived in Great Bardfield for 40 years and frequently hosted art exhibitions throughout the 1950s.

The artists’ work quickly attracted international attention and the likes of Edward Bawden, George Chapman, Kenneth Rowntree and Michael Rothenstein became household names within the art community almost overnight.

Their paintings are expected to collectively sell for more than £25,000 at the auction.

Brett Tryner, of Cheffins Fine Art Auctioneers in Cambridge, said: “The Great Bardfield Artists were some of the most prominent and influential artists of the period.

“Specialising in figurative painting and printmaking, these well-known individuals changed the landscape for homegrown talent over a period of 40 years.

‘‘Edward Bawden is arguably one of the most popular artists amongst the group within the auction and trade market, and his work is now achieving triple the figures of a decade ago, selling to private collectors, institutions and galleries.”

Bawden’s 1956 lino-cut The Road To Thaxted and his 1958 cartoon-esque Brighton Pier are expected to prove most popular with art buffs.

The auction will also feature work from other Essex-based artists such as Robert MacBryde, who spent many years living in Tilty Mill near Dunmow, and Michael Ayrton, who was a resident in Toppesfield for many years.

Between them, the pieces are expected to fetch anywhere between £7,000 and £10,000.

The collection goes under the hammer at Cheffins Fine Art Auctioneers, in Cambridge, today from 11am.