Bloomsbury 20th Century British Art Sale

Bloomsbury’s sales of Modern British Art are becoming stronger and more exciting with every auction. The core of the Modern British Art sale (13th November) is a powerful selection of pre-war British Surrealist artists including William Roberts, John Tunnard, Eileen Agar, John Buckland-Wright and Stanley William Hayter.

In 1926 Hayter moved to Paris and established the famous print studio Atelier 17, where he associated himself with the embryonic Surrealist group founded by André Breton. Among the artists Hayter is credited with influencing are Picasso, Giacometti, Miro, Calder and Chagall to name but a few. In 1942 he and his close friend, the photographer Man Ray, escaped to New York taking with him the twelve pieces in Bloomsbury’s sale (lots 53-64). All from a single private collection in Philadelphia, these works were bought directly from the artist in the 1940s. Lot 53 Route à Bonifacio 1927 is one of Hayter’s first works on canvas and is expected to fetch £10000-15000. Lot 65 is an untitled acrylic on canvas dated Feb 7 ’67 and comes from the artist’s own collection, thence by decent to the present owner. The British Surrealist movement is at last being repositioned within the canon of Modern British Art and Hayter is taking up his place not only as the most important British print maker of the period, but also a major artist in his own right. Stalingrad (lot 69) by John Buckland-Wright, the celebrated printmaker of the Modern British School, is extremely important as not only is it the first time it has been on the market, but it is also the only oil on canvas of the Second World War that he ever painted. A key figure of British art in the inter-war years, the influence of post Cubist Surrealism is especially obvious in this powerful work. Estimated £15000-20000 it comes from the collection of the artist and by descent to the present owner.

Amongst the earlier pieces is the delicate profile pencil drawing by Sir Edward Burne-Jones of his wife Georgiana (lot 2); Portrait of Lady Burne-Jones it is signed with his initials EBJ, and bears the amusing if unexpected inscription: ‘I have never seen a face I so much dislike as this’ (estimate £7000-9000).

Two signed and dated small pencil drawings on thin card by LS Lowry entitled Two Views of Water St, Northwich 1957 (lot 31) carry a modest estimate of £1500-2000. A gift from the artist to the parents of the current owner, they are fresh to the market and are inscribed on the back ‘Water St, Northwich, by LS Lowry. Where Margaret + Bernard stayed when first married’.

William Scott’s work has recently broken through the £1million barrier at auction and lot 47, Still Life with Two Lemons and Grapes (1974) is very much representative of the artist’s oeuvre. Part of the William Scott Archive, this work is signed and dated and is in coloured chalks, watercolour and graphite on paper (£20000-30000). Lots 85 and 86 are two brightly coloured oil on board paintings by Mary Newcomb, who died this year. Wives and Flowers (estimate £8000-12000) and Needham Mill (estimate £10000-15000) are both signed, dated 1961 and were acquired from the artist in the early 60s and thence by descent to the present vendor.

One of the highlights of the sale must be the large signed and dated oil on board, Girls and Flowers (1959) by Mary Fedden (lot 120). This artist’s work is becoming increasingly popular, a painting from 1980 recently exceeded £100000. The sale boasts a further three Feddens: Wine and Quail Eggs (lot 122) is a watercolour on handmade paper commissioned by the current owner and based on an earlier important work by the artist (estimate £2000-3000), and Ornamental Cabbage 2000 a signed oil on canvas, estimated £8000-12000.

Lucien Freud is internationally regarded as the greatest living artist of the 20th century and Bloomsbury Auctions is selling the pen and ink Study for Large Interior, W11 (after Watteau). This linear, almost sculptural preparatory sketch for Large Interior W11, possibly Freud’s most famous work, is estimated £15000-20000.

Auction info