In 1959 the Cornish painter Peter Lanyon (1918-1964) joined his local gliding club. Soaring above the landscape gave him a new perspective on it that had a profound, revelatory effect on his output (and tragically on his life which he lost in a gliding accident in 1964). One of his gliding paintings Still Air from 1961 features in Bonhams
Modern British and Irish Art sale in London on Tuesday 22 November. Estimated at £200,000-300,000, it leads an outstanding private family collection of works from a Knightsbridge residence by major names of Modern British Art. Artists of the St Ives School are especially well-represented.
Christopher Dawson, Head of Bonhams Modern British and Irish Art Department, said: Lanyon's gliding paintings represent the pinnacle of his achievements as an artist and Still Air is among the most successful manifestations of his all-consuming quest to depict space itself. The work, with its expanses of grey-white paint and streaks of deep blue and ochre, is unusual in Lanyon's output both for the sparing use of paint and the capacious expanse which he conjures on the canvas. Still Air is but one of 24 works from this private family collection of truly extraordinary quality. The collectors fascination with the artists colony at St Ives, in particular, is strongly reflected in the sale.
Other highlights of the private family collection, include:
·Recumbent Figure by Henry Moore (1898-1986). The piece is a maquette for the 1938 large green Hornton stone carving of the same name in Tate Britain which has come to symbolise modernity in 20th century Britain. At the time Moore carved the four-and-a-half-foot Recumbent Figure it was his largest and most ambitious work to date. Not only does it represent one of Moore's earliest maquettes, most importantly it possesses one of the earliest instances of piercing the form, a major development of a highly important device the artist would frequently draw upon throughout his career. Estimate: £150,000-250,000.
·White and Green Upright: August 1956 by Patrick Heron (1920-1999). The work belongs to a key moment in both Heron's life and art. Just a few months before White and Green Upright: August 1956 was painted, the artist and his family settled at Eagle's Nest, in West Penwith five miles from the artists' colony of St Ives. Much of his work from the period draws on the rich outdoor landscape at Eagles Nest and marks a move away from figuration and the embracement of abstraction as Heron saw it. Estimate: £80,000-120,000.
·Forms in Space by Dame Barbara Hepworth (1903-1975). The drawing dates from the 1940s when Hepworth had settled in Cornwall with Ben Nicholson and their young triplets. Drawing became an important outlet for her creativity at a period of her life when she was busy caring for her family and had less time for carving. Always in tune with the landscape around her, Hepworth deeply felt and absorbed the inspiration that came to her from the sky, waves, and land that rolled through and around the Cornish peninsula; Forms in Space is an important example of this influence. Estimate: £80,000-120,000.
·Two Reclining Figures by Lynn Chadwick (1914-2003). Two Reclining Figures was made shortly after Chadwick and his wife Éva established their own foundry, at Lypiatt Park, Gloucestershire. With Éva by his side, and looking after the business side of his profession, Chadwick emerged out of a period of debt in the 1960s into one with more financial stability. His international reputation had long been secured, and with the luxury of his own foundry from 1971 the sculptor was able to scrutinize the accuracy and quality of the casting process. Estimate: £70,000-100,000.