Monday 13 June 2016

London Calling | Modern British and Irish Art Evening Sale

Henry Moore, O.M., C.H. (1898-1986), Two Heads: Mother and Child, Carved in 1923. Serpentine, unique.
7 1/2in. (19 cm.) long. Estimate: £600,000-800,000. 
Monday, June 13, 2016 - The Modern British and Irish Art Evening Sale will take place in London on 20 June 2016, launching 20th-Century at Christie’s, a series of auctions from 20 to 30 June 2016. A distinguished European Estate will be offered with 29 lots throughout both the Evening and Day Sales, with works spanning from painting to sculpture representing key works from the 1930s and ‘40s. Artists presented include Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth and Ben Nicholson, together with their modernist contemporaries from the mid-20th Century, as well as post-war artists such as Bridget Riley and Leon Kossoff. With estimates ranging from £50,000 to £1,800,000, the 49 lot Evening Sale offers a consistently rich array including the earliest known depiction of a cinema by Walter Sickert; one of the first examples of Henry Moore’s mother and child sculptures which is presented alongside one of his last major works of the same subject and a rare industrialised seascape by L.S. Lowry. Further highlights include: a painting by each of the Scottish Colourists; a strong selection from the London School by Frank Auerbach, and David Bomberg; significant sculptures by Sir Anthony Caro; Lynn Chadwick and Barry Flanagan and the St Ives School including two works by Peter Lanyon. The Modern British and Irish Art Day Sale will follow on Tuesday 21 June, featuring 119 lots with estimates ranging from £4,000 to £300,000, providing opportunity for collectors from every level.

Henry Moore: One of the First and Last Depictions of the Mother and Child
For Moore, the idea of the mother and child occupies a place at the very heart of creation, in both the physical, natural world, and within the creative arts of humankind. For him, it was a metaphor for the work of the sculptor. In Mother and Child: Block Seat, 1983-84, one of his final large-scale sculptures, we see the Madonna and Child simplified; it exemplifies the way Moore’s late works used biomorphic transformation to make the connection between the human figure and nature (estimate: £1,000,000-1,500,000). Carved in 1923, when Henry Moore was only 25 years old, Two Heads: Mother and Child is a unique and rare first interpretation of the mother and child which was set to occupy the sculptor’s imagination throughout his career (estimate: £600,000-800,000). In the present work, this theme is broken down and reduced to two round heads. From one side both forms appear independent from one another, from the other they almost seem to be embraced, with the mother emerging from the stone as a sturdy mountain. Two Heads: Mother and Child is Moore’s earliest recorded abstract carving of the subject and was amongst the few works that Moore kept in his personal collection.

One of the First Known Depictions of Cinema by Walter Sickert
The Gallery at the Old Mogul, 1906, by the Camden Town artist Walter Sickert is one of the earliest ever representations of a cinema and serves as a leading example of the mutual relationship between art and film (estimate: £80,000-120,000). Early press descriptions prove that the original title of the picture was Cinematograph and shows a film screening of a Western. ‘The Old Mogul’ was the original name for the Middlesex Music Hall in Drury Lane, and the work was painted soon after his return to London from Dieppe in 1906, at a time when he was rediscovering his fascination for music-hall subjects. The painting places the audience on a diagonal recession, experimenting with the vantage point of the viewer. The inspiration for depicting new forms of entertainment stemmed partly from French artists such as Degas but Sickert was one of the first artists to examine scenes of popular entertainment in a British art context.  

St. Ives School
The Cornish landscape influenced the sculptures and paintings of the artists that resided there. Barbara Hepworth’s Convolute, 1944, is literally coiled upon itself as if the forces of nature had a hand in shaping these forms (estimate: £400,000-600,000). Stringed figure (Curlew), 1956, was hand-made in Hepworth’s St Ives studio using sheet brass and cotton fisherman’s string (estimate: £250,000-350,000).

The downcurved bill, long legs and beautiful, evocative cry of the native British bird found on the Cornish coast are represented in this sculpture. Two Forms in Echelon, 1963, is an exceptional carving crafted from a beautiful grey slate stone, that displays Hepworth’s aptitude and understanding of the material, utilising it to create a sinuous and organic work (estimate: £500,000-800,000). What is most arresting is her ability to harness light, expressed most acutely through the introduction of her carefully hollowed apertures, which bring an inner vitality to it. 1940 (two forms; project), 1940, was created at the beginning of the Second World War, a year after the artist had left London with Hepworth and their three children for the safety of Cornwell (estimate: £200,000-300,000). Painted at a time of great change in his life, it is a culmination of his form of minimal constructive abstraction. Nicholson’s lyrical and serene 1933 (still life with jug and bottle), 1933, illustrates a dynamic array of objects set against an organic, scraped background (estimate: £400,000-600,000). In 1959 Peter Lanyon began gliding lessons, something that became a passion and a major influence in his painting. A harmonious and stimulating work from his series of glider paintings, North East, 1963, captures the essence of a huge vista where we see land, air and coastline (estimate:£150,000-250,000). It was recently included in the exhibition of Lanyon’s work at The Courtauld Gallery, Soaring Flight: Peter Lanyon’s Gliding Paintings.

School of London
Two major paintings by Frank Auerbach and David Bomberg represent the diverse subjects undertaken by these leading British painters. Head of Jake, 2003, provides an intimate glimpse into Auerbach’s world, depicting one of his favourite and most frequent sitters – his son Jake Auerbach (estimate: £250,000-350,000). Starting from this point of familiarity, he sought not to depict a physical likeness of his subject, instead recording their physical presence, which was distilled onto the canvas. The Bomberg family had settled in Ronda, Spain by the end of 1934, during which time Bomberg created bold landscapes that celebrated the majesty of the scenery, often painted at dusk or at night by candlelight. The Moor’s Bridge, Ronda, 1935, depicts the Moor's Bridge, or Puente Romano, over the Tajo Gorge, one of three bridges which link the town (estimate: £200,000-300,000).

Scottish Colourists
A strong presentation of each of the Scottish Colourists is formed by two of Francis Campbell Boileau Cadell’s paintings; Roses, circa 1925 (estimate £250,000-350,000) and The Coral Necklace, circa 1921, (estimate: £100,000-150,000); Samuel Peploe’s Le Touquet, 1907, (estimate: £100,000-150,000); La Terasse, Le Touquet Casino, Night, circa 1903-05, (estimate: £300,000-500,000) by John Duncan Fergusson and Still Life with Fruit, a Rose and Pink Vase, 1925, (estimate: £80,000-120,000) by George Leslie Hunter.

Post-War Sculpture
The demand for British sculpture continues to grow and in addition to the seminal works by Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth, further highlights include Sir Anthony Caro’s Midnight Gap, 1976-78 (estimate: £300,000-500,000). This strikingly multi-faceted assemblage is an intriguing juxtaposition of diverse, disparate parts in which light and shadow interact within and beyond the surface and body of the sculpture. Pair of Sitting Figures IV, 1973 by Lynn Chadwick explores the tender and intimate relationships formed between humans, examining not what the figures were doing but how they interacted (estimate: £80,000-120,000). A unique work from 1957-58 by Chadwick, Maquette for Male Winged Figure will also be included in the sale (estimate: £150,000-250,000). A symbol of immortality, vitality, fertility, liberty and mischief, for Barry Flanagan, the hare was capable of carrying the attributes of the human into the animal world. Unlike the majority of his hares, Sculler, 1998, is still, seated, perhaps in quiet contemplation, resignation or simply lost in reverie (estimate: £200,000-300,000). Sculler it seems, is arguably more anthropomorphic than others, an eloquent example of his ability to use the hare as a vehicle to reflect on the complexity of emotions.

Irish Art 
A group of paintings by William Scott include Still Life on Black Table I (Landscape Still Life), 1956, which showcases his mastery of line and tone (estimate: £120,000-180,000), as well as Seated Figure no. 1, 1954, from the collection of Guy and Marie-Hélène Weill who were early patrons of Modernism and Abstract Expressionism (estimate: £200,000-300,000). Further works by Sir John Lavery are presented in the Day Sale such as A Summer Evening – The Thames, circa 1913, (estimate £80,000-120,000).

L.S. Lowry
Following the highly acclaimed exhibition held in 2013 at Tate Britain, and the continued strength of the market for this much-loved northern artist, Christie’s presents Beach Scene, 1946, a large-scale and rare depiction of water by L.S. Lowry (estimate £1,300,000-1,800,000, illustrated right). The industrialised beach scene, a rediscovery in the artist’s output, is presented to the market for the first time. Two further works, Harbour Scene, 1959 (estimate: £400,000-600,000) and A Lancashire Farm, 1943 (estimate: £200,000-300,000) will also be offered.

Modern British and Irish Art Day Sale
Thirteen further works from the distinguished European Estate will be offered in the Modern British and Irish Art Day Sale, including a work on paper by Bridget Riley, Twisted Curve in Single Reverse, 1979 (estimate: £80,000-120,000). Mother and Child: Arch by Henry Moore, 1959 (estimate: £200,000-300,000) will lead the sale with additional highlights by Sir Winston Churchill, Garden Scene, early 1920s (estimate: £150,000-250,000) and Patrick Caulfield, Glass & Plate, Black & White Checks, 1972 (estimate: £60,000-80,000). A selection of works on paper in the sale include Richard Hamilton’s Study for ‘re Nude’, circa 1954 (estimate: £4,000-6,000) and Sofa, 1971, by David Hockney (estimate: £10,000-15,000).

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