Christie's Modern British & Irish Art Evening Sale is now online for browsing

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Christie's Modern British & Irish Art Evening Sale is now online for browsing
Sir Winston Churchill, O.M., R.A. (1874-1965), The Bridge at Aix-en-Provence, signed with initials 'W.S.C.' (lower right), oil on canvas, 22 x 28 in. (55.9 x 71.2 cm.) Painted in September 1948. Estimate: GBP 1,500,000 - GBP 2,500,000. © Christie's Images Ltd 2021.

LONDON.- Christie’s Modern British & Irish Art Evening Sale, taking place on 20 October 2021, is a key auction in the 20th / 21st Century October season, which encompasses sales in both London and Paris. The auction will be led by Sir Winston Churchill’s The Bridge at Aix-en-Provence, which was gifted to the Swiss paint manufacturer, Willy Sax, who supplied Churchill with his artistic materials. Two sculptures by Elisabeth Frink; Lying Down Horse II (1985, £300,000-500,000) and Barking Dog (1981, estimate: £100,000-150,000), commissioned by Kirk and Anne Douglas, will highlight the Evening and Day Sales respectively. A group of three paintings by Samuel John Peploe, including Flowers and Fruits (circa 1920, estimate: £500,000-700,000), are being offered in the year that marks the 150th anniversary of the artist’s birth in Edinburgh. L.S. Lowry’s The Mill, Early Morning (1961, estimate: £500,000-800,000) has not been seen on the market for 50 years and is presented alongside Rising Street (circa 1940, estimate: £500,000-800,000) and Viaduct Works, Manchester (1959, estimate: £400,000-600,0000). Gerald Laing’s Lotus in the Sunset, thought to have been lost, is offered at auction for the first time, highlighting a section dedicated to British Pop Art that also includes works by Patrick Caulfield, Antony Donaldson and Eduardo Paolozzi. Further highlights include a rediscovered Marlow Moss, Spheres and Curved Line (1945, estimate: £40,000-60,000), Barbara Hepworth’s Curved Form with Inner Form (Anima) (1959, estimate: £300,000-500,000), from the Everson Museum of Art, and Jack Butler Yeats’ A Sea Town (1931, estimate: £200,000-300,000), formerly in the collection of B.J. Eastwood.

Angus Granlund, Head of Evening Sale, Modern British & Irish Art, Christie’s: “The Modern British & Irish Art Evening Sale showcases over 100 years of British art, highlighted by Sir Winston Churchill’s en plein air landscape. Lowry’s industrial scenes are contrasted by Peploe’s luminous still lifes while a focus on British Pop art includes Patrick Caulfield, Antony Donaldson and Eduardo Paolozzi. Gerald Laing’s rediscovered Lotus in the Sunset is offered at auction for the first time, while Marlow Moss’s Spheres and Curved Line is a recent rediscovery, after being held in an American collection, and unseen for more than 50 years. We look forward to welcoming our clients in person back to the galleries at King Street.”


The Bridge at Aix-en-Provence (1948, estimate: £1,500,000-2,500,000) by Sir Winston Churchill was originally gifted to the Swiss paint manufacturer Willy Sax who supplied Churchill with his artistic materials and would become a lifelong friend. Churchill had already been using oil paint produced by Sax Farben, a family run paint manufacturer just outside Zurich, when the pair formed an incredibly strong bond after their first meeting in Switzerland in September 1946. The resulting close relationship ensued for the rest of their lives. The scene depicted in The Bridge at Aix-en-Provence would have been especially appealing to Churchill, not only due to his love of painting water, but also because this particular vista was also visited by one of the most important artists of the 20th Century, Paul Cézanne, who inspired Churchill.


Lying Down Horse II (£300,000-500,000, illustrated above, right) is from Elisabeth Frink’s first cast of this life-size work, which she promised explicitly in 1985 to Hollywood royalty, art collectors and philanthropists Kirk and Anne Douglas, after the couple expressed their fondness to her for a similar artwork. Frink remained in touch with the Douglas’s throughout the sculpture’s production, sharing images of the plaster prior to casting the bronze. Anne too, enthusiastically shared photographs with Frink of the finished sculpture (affectionately nicknamed ‘Bill’ after Kirk’s own racehorse) displayed in situ in their Palm Springs garden.


Gerald Laing’s Lotus in the Sunset (1969, estimate: £350,000-450,000) was commissioned for the Ontario Speedway in LA. It was recently rediscovered having previously thought to have been lost when the club was demolished in 1981. The painting, 5.5 metres long, depicts Jackie Stewart in a British Lotus. The Victory Circle Club was a private members club hosting the likes of Kirk Douglas, James Garner and Steve McQueen and was also featured extensively in the 1971 film Evel Knievel staring George Hamilton.


Heart’s Delight (1949, estimate: £80,000-120,000) by Eduardo Paolozzi represents the glamour and allure of 1940s American consumer culture. Objects of desire are juxtaposed with perfect bodies in this arresting and comprehensive work. Flesh pink, sky blue and the white of the primed canvas support constitute the only elements in Four (1964, estimate: £100,000-150,000) by Antony Donaldson. Exhibited at the seminal ‘New Generation: 1964’ exhibition curated by Bryan Robertson at the Whitechapel Art Gallery, it highlights his distinctive contribution to the early history of British Pop Art. Corner of the Studio (1964, estimate: £300,000-500,000), which is being sold by the estate of the late Clodagh Waddington, is one of a group of large oil paintings on hardboard made by Patrick Caulfield in a panoramic format just a year after completing his M.A. at the Royal College of Art. The deep blue that engulfs the entire surface of Caulfield’s boldly economical rendering of an attic-like interior identifies both walls and floor – undifferentiated from each other by any visible join, but implied by the placement of the two solid rectangles of colour – as steeped in a dusky light.


The Mill, Early Morning (1961, estimate: £500,000-800,000) by L.S. Lowry has remained in the same collection for half a century, Lowry has painted a work in his most familiar idiom. The upright format emphasises that we are being presented with a portrait of Lowry's muse, the Acme Spinning Mill in early morning. Rising Street (circa 1940, estimate: £500,000-800,000) demonstrates Lowry’s innate ability to imbue his paintings with a complex compositional structure and sense of balance, whilst also presenting the mill workers relaxing away from the factories. Viaduct Works, Manchester (1959, estimate: £400,000-600,0000) was commissioned directly from Lowry by a collector and close friend who had first encountered the artist at the end of the 1940s when a visit to a dealer in London resulted in the purchase of a small painting of Peel Park in Salford.


More than any other member of the Scottish Colourists, Samuel John Peploe was influenced by the radical work of the Cubists and Fauves and he developed a way of painting more closely akin to that of Cézanne with his bold colour and delineated tone. This is exemplified by Flowers and Fruit (circa 1920, estimate: £500,000-700,000), a lesson in compositional harmony. Still Life, Apples and Pink Roses was also painted around 1920 when Peploe's still life paintings were at their most vibrant and the colour schemes pared down to a limited number of complimentary hues. Girl in White (early 1920s, estimate: £200,000-300,000) demonstrates many of the same considerations that Peploe gave to his still life subjects, applied to portraiture. Five further works by the artist are included in the Modern British & Irish Day Sale on the 21 October.


Spheres and Curved Line (1945, estimate: £40,000-60,000) was included in the 1962 exhibition ‘Marlow Moss’ at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam and was last exhibited in a solo show at Gimpel Fils in London in the 1970s. As it has remained in a private collection in America, the sculpture has been unseen for almost 50 years.


The open centre of Barbara Hepworth’s Curved Form with Inner Form (Anima) (1959, estimate: £300,000- 500,000) is reminiscent of the holes made in stones and shells by the sea, as well as the relationship between light and space. The crashing waves of the coast are recorded in the erosion of the form. Curved Form with Inner Form (Anima) is being offered by Everson Museum of Art, with proceeds benefitting their acquisitions and collections care. The sale includes three further works by Hepworth, Involute (1968, estimate: £120,000-180,000), Six Forms on a Circle (1968, estimate: £300,000-500,000), and Three Forms (1971, estimate: £150,000-250,000). Ben Nicholson’s July 25-47 (still life – Odyssey 2) (1947, estimate £300,000-500,000) exemplifies the artist’s blending of landscape and table-top still-life. It was originally owned by his patron and the great modernist collector Margaret Gardiner who founded the Pier Art Centre in Stromness, the work has not been seen since it was last on the market in 1974.


The sea in Jack Butler Yeats’ A Sea Town (1931, estimate: £200,000-300,000) appears passive and calm and is very lightly painted while the sky, by contrast, is an outstanding exercise in pure paint. The painting belonged to the late B.J. Eastwood, a discerning and important collector of the work of Jack Butler Yeats.


Reclining Figure on Pedestal (1959-60, estimate: £600,000-800,000) by Henry Moore is a large-scale cast of his most enduring and important subject, the reclining figure. Conceived mid-career, in this sculpture Moore was working towards abstraction of the subject shortly before he explored the figure as separate elements. In Thinker on Rock (1996, estimate: £550,000-700,000) Barry Flanagan presents us with a typically playful take on the iconic subject of Rodin’s Thinker, imbuing the animal with human attributes, whilst also adding humour to this most serious of subjects that has been repeatedly explored since the renaissance.

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