first live behind-closed-doors sale in the UK yesterday (Tuesday 12 May 2020) was a great success.The Modern British and Irish Art sale in Knightsbridge achieved an impressive 84% sold by lot and 88% sold by value. The sale also saw a record number of bidders for the department.
Amongst the highlights were a section of 22 sketches by the renowned photographer Cecil Beaton for The Book of Beauty, all of which sold, many above estimate.
One of the most important and revered photographers of the 20th century, Cecil Beaton became associated with the glamour of the young members of high society in the 1920s, his images capturing a sense of youthful abandon and conscious self-fashioning in the aftermath of the First World War. His work would go on to define the era of the Bright Young Things the name given to the crowd of young, intelligent and beautiful people Beaton called friends, which included the likes of poet Stephen Tennant, the Jungman sisters and an array of eccentric debutantes. The Book of Beauty was Beatons first publication and contained a mixture of photographs, drawings and witty descriptions of many of the most beautiful and noted women of the day.
Bonhams Specialist in Modern British and Irish Art and Head of the sale, Janet Hardie, commented: This is such a fantastic result for the first sale behind-closed-doors in the UK and shows that, even amid the current situation, there is still a real appetite for beautiful works of art. The Cecil Beaton sketches in particular offered a timely sense of escapism, encapsulating the glamour, fun and freedom of the Roaring Twenties.
Other highlights included:
Mallard and Teal in Flight by Sir Peter Scott, sold for £25,063.
Orange, Green and Violet by Michael Kidner R.A. which sold for £13,813.
Woman in Black (painted in 1924) by Christopher Wood, sold for £11,938.
Colston Bassett by John Piper C.H. which sold for £11,313.
The Jaguar (painted in 1987) by Beryl Cook, sold for £10,688.
The Running Child (painted in 1973) by Carel Weight R.A., which sold for 10,063.
Village Street in Wales (painted in 1949) by Josef Herman R.A., which sold for £10,063.
Rabbit 73.5cm (28 15/ 16in) long (conceived in 1997-9) by Nicola Hicks, sold for £9,438.
Autumn Light, San Marco by Ken Howard R.A., which sold for £9,438.
Landscape (painted in 1946) by John Piper C.H., sold for £9,438.