A London scene by English artist Christopher Wood (1901-1930), entitled Skating at Hampstead, 1929, is to be sold at Bonhams, New Bond Street, as part of its 20th Century British Art sale on 30 June 2010. It has been estimated at £50,000 – 70,000. The picture was bought by the present owner from the Redfern Gallery in 1955.
Christopher Wood, who tragically died at the age of 29, is best known for his coastal scenes, paintings of Breton, largely considered to be his best, and still life pictures. This scene of Hampstead in London is unusual.
The sale features three other works by Wood, including a significant still life painting, depicting flowers fruit and a clay pipe, Still Life with Flowers, Fruit and a Clay Pipe (estimate £100,000 – 150,000). The clay pipe, which occupies the bottom left hand corner of the picture, appears in a number of Wood’s works, including Flowers on a Chair with Pipe and Paper, formerly in the collection of Lord and Lady Attenborough.
It serves as a poignant reminder of Wood’s suicide at Salisbury station in 1930, thought to have been triggered by his use of opium. He used the pipe to smoke the drug, even after it was made illegal in England in 1920. His Paris-based friend, artist Jean Cocteau, advocated that opium aided and developed creative thought and helped Wood’s continued access to it.
A painting of the view over Porthmeor Beach in Cornwall, Girl in a Lamp in a Cornish Window, is expected to fetch £40,000 – 60,000. Wood rented a cottage with his great friends, the artists Ben and Winifred Nicholson, for three months in the autumn of 1928. It is believed that the girl in this picture was the daughter of a local fisherman.
A Cumberland landscape, which comes from Winifred Nicholson’s collection, has been estimated at £30,000 – 40,000.