MODERN BRITISH AND IRISH ART EVENING SALE
LONDON, 25 NOVEMBER 2015
Modern British & Irish Art
including works by
Hepworth, Moore, Lowry and Spencer
to be offered at
Christie’s King Street on 25 November 2015
London – Christie’s Modern British and Irish Art Evening Sale will take place on 25 November, 2015. Featuring 32 lots, the auction presents stellar examples of 20th century British sculpture and painting including The Railway Platform by L.S. Lowry (estimate: £1.3-1.8 million), and Sir Stanley Spencer’s Hilda with Bluebells (estimate: £1-1.5 million). There is a strong selection of sculpture, led by Henry Moore’s Reclining Figure: Umbilicus (estimate: £1.5 -2.5 million, illustrated above), as well as examples by Dame Barbara Hepworth, Dame Elisabeth Frink,William Turnbull, and Eric Gill’s Eve, at auction for the first time having been bought directly from the artist by ‘Monuments Man’, Lt. Col. John Dixon-Spain in 1930. This sale marks a wonderful opportunity for collectors to choose from an inspiring array of works with notable provenance; estimates ranging from £80,000 to £2.5 million. The sale is followed by the Day Saleon 26 November, which comprises 120 works, including Property from the Estate of L.S. Lowry.
André Zlattinger, Senior Director, Head of Modern British Art, Christie’s London and Rachel Hidderley, International Specialist and Director, Modern British Art: “We are pleased to present some important and monumental pieces of Modern British art, including a wide range of sculpture by revered artists Hepworth, Moore, Gill, Frink and Turnbull. This sale, which spans over 100 years, is defined by offering masterpieces from leading collections that celebrate the harmony and revolutionary spirit of the art of the British Isles. This dynamic and inspiring category includes a superb group of works by Irish artists Lavery, Yeats, O’Conor and Henry, which were formed as an important private Irish collection in the late 1980s, gathering the best works available on the market at that time.”
The demand for British sculpture continues and the Evening Sale comprises six works by Henry Moore, led by Reclining Figure: Umbilicus (estimate: £1.5 -2.5 million, illustrated page one). Moore’s prolific career saw the theme of the reclining figure develop into, what he noted to be, ‘an absolute obsession’, and served as the site of some of his greatest innovations. In the present work, Moore has transformed the human body into an arrangement of abstraction and figuration. Conceived in 1984, Reclining Figure: Umbilicus encapsulates Moore’s vision of sculpture: at once figurative and abstract, with its flowing lines, rolling curves and polished surface.
Further important and monumental pieces of modern British sculpture include Dame Barbara Hepworth’s Single Form (Antiphon) (estimate: £600,000-800,000, illustrated left), which exemplifies one of the most powerful forces that lie within Hepworth’s work - the duality between abstraction and naturalism. Standing at over two metres high, Single Form (Antiphon) combines the symbolic and abstract, the non-representational and naturalistic. Other highlights includeForms in Movement (Pavan) (estimate: £300,000-500,000) and Hand Sculpture (Turning Form)(estimate: £250,000-450,000).
In June 2015, Christie’s Modern British & Irish Art Evening Sale set a new world record price at auction for Eric Gill with St Joan of Arc realising £2,210,500. Following this success, Christie’s is pleased to present Eve (estimate: £200,000-300,000, illustrated right). Coming to the market for the first time, Eve was purchased directly from the artist in 1930 by Lt. Col. John Dixon-Spain, one of the first ‘Monument Men’ charged with recovering and restoring missing art works to their rightful owners across Europe. Since being loaned to the 1932 Venice Biennale, Eve has not been seen in public or exhibited until now.
A highlight of the sale is an important group of paintings by L.S. Lowry, including The Railway Platform, (estimate: £1.3-1.8, illustrated left). Lowry had a unique way of making the ordinary spectacular and this highly rare composition captures the platform full of patient travellers bustling with activity. Lowry’s fascination with the human interactions of urban life is further exemplified in this sale by Park and Steps (estimate £250,000-350,000), Tuesday Morning, Pendlebury(estimate: £150,000-250,000) and Two Men Talking (estimate: £120,000-180,000).
Christie’s is also offering a selection of paintings and drawings directly from the Estate of L.S. Lowry in the Modern British & Irish Art Day Sale on 26 November. Comprising 22 lots, this is a unique opportunity for collectors. The selection represents outstanding works mostly from the 1960s and 1970s, which encompass Lowry’s favourite themes from these later decades in which he concentrated more fully on people rather than the landscape. The selection will provide a rich array of opportunities for new and established collectors at a wide range of price levels, with estimates ranging from £4,000 to £100,000. The leading lot is Man with bowler hat (estimate: £60,000-100,000).
20th Century British Painting
Sir Stanley Spencer’s Hilda with Bluebells recalls in tender detail the earliest years of the artist’s relationship with his wife, Hilda Carline (estimate: £1-1.5 million, illustrated right). In 1950, Hilda tragically passed away from cancer. The artist had hoped to remarry Hilda following their divorce and in place of this now saddened desire, Spencer turned his attention to producing a series of paintings that celebrated events from their lives and also his imagined ideal of a perfect marriage. Painted in 1955, the present work celebrates a time when Spencer and Hilda were enjoying a period of domestic bliss.
Coming to auction for the first time is a masterpiece by David Bomberg entitled Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem (estimate £800,000-1.2 million, illustrated right). This work was favourite of Lucian Freud, who was especially impressed by Bomberg’s decision to paint the far distance in relatively sharp detail compared with the broad treatment of the foreground. Freud recognised that Bomberg had thereby been able to capture the brightness of the light in a unique and highly innovative way.
Irish Masterpieces and Scottish Colourists
The sale presents a masterpiece by revered Irish artist Sir John Lavery, entitled The Maid was in the Garden Hanging out the Clothes (estimate: £300,000-500,000, illustrated left). Painted in the modern rural naturalistic manner which Lavery had gone to Paris to study at the end of 1881, this work indicates a young painter with a growing awareness of Impressionism. A further highlight by revered artist Jack Butler Yeats is The Boat Builder (estimate: £300,000-500,000,illustrated right). In 1913, Yeats was commissioned to paint twelve illustrations for Canon J.O. Hannah (alias George A. Birmingham’s) popular book, Irishmen All. Recording many of the representative professions in contemporary rural Ireland, The Boat Builder captures the theme of a local character standing beside a clinker-built fishing boat. This work was once in the collection of the British ornithologist, naval officer, and painter, Sir Peter Scott, C.B.E.
Scottish Colourist works include S.J. Peploe’s Still life with pewter Flagon (estimate: £150,000-250,000), and John Duncan Fergusson’s Déesse et Fruits which exemplifies the artist’s interest in sculpture and the influence of Picasso, Matisse and Vlaminck (estimate: £150,000-250,000).
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