3/10/2019 Modern & Contemporary British Art, News Stories & Press Release
LONDON: Four cast iron bollards designed by the British sculptor Antony Gormley (b.1950) as part of a £60 million regeneration project in Peckham have sold just a few miles away at Roseberys London. The artist was commissioned to design bollards, lamp posts and other elements of street furniture to decorate the south London district in 1994. The group at Roseberys, estimated at £6,000-10,000 and offered just days after the opening of the sculptor’s major retrospective at the Royal Academy, eventually sold for £12,500 in a sale of Modern and Contemporary British Art on September 24. Titled from left to right Penis, Snowman, Oval, Peg, the set belonged to the Heaton Arms pub, a local hub for artists and the creative community on Rye Lane, until it was demolished c.2005 and entered into a private collection. Gormley’s unconventional bollards have a somewhat chequered history. After the first set was installed near the sculptor’s studio in Bellenden Road, the local council withdrew its funding, citing the geometric designs as controversial. However, local traders intervened and raised the money to continue with their installation. The bollards remain a distinctive feature of the Peckham area to this day. [Lot 217]
Commenting on the overall sale, Helena Anderson, Associate Picture Specialist, said: The sale offered a large selection of Modern British works, ranging from the early 20th century to the contemporary. Figurative contemporary works from the 1970s to the 1990s were particularly strongly represented, as were painterly abstract canvasses. We were delighted to offer for sale works from the Robert Heller Estate, showcasing the collection of a hugely influential British art patron collecting in the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s. Highlights from the collection included works by Peter Howson, Boyd & Evans, Lucy Jones, and John Keane, all of whom achieved successful results on the days.
A rare portrait of a woman and child by Patrick Procktor (1936-2003), an artist better known for his isolated portraits of men, was one of the stand-out lots of the day making £10,000. The wonderfully vibrant and tender oil on canvas was created in 1977, a year after he produced a sequence of prints to illustrate a new edition of Coleridge's famous poem, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. [Lot 157]
The sale also included a work on paper dating to the pinnacle of Procktor’s career in the 1960s, a period when his friendships spanned the worlds of pop, art, fashion and society. Procktor worked primarily in oils, acrylics and watercolour and drew on pop art influences and his travels to places such as Greece, Italy, China and Japan. In excellent condition, The Photographer (1964) made £5500, over double its top estimate. (Lot 156)
The collection of the late journalist and art collector Bob Heller (1932-2012), reflecting his love and championing of British contemporary art, was well received with many pieces improving on estimates. Spread across 130 lots, the collection contained a diverse array of mixed media works assembled by the former Flowers Gallery director from the 1980s to 2000. Leading artists included Peter Howson, Clive Barker and husband and wife duo Boyd & Evans. A rather typical lifelike bronze of a dog by one of Britain’s foremost animal sculptors Nicola Hicks (b.1960) achieved £3,800. ‘Bill’ (1996) came from an edition of six and was painted in her signature reddish hue. (Lot 282)
The collection comprised of around 30 lots by Boyd & Evans, who have worked together since 1968 producing narrative paintings and photographs of landscapes and domestic scenes. The pick of them was a vibrant and beautifully composed acrylic on canvas titled Shelter (1986), estimated at £1,000-1,500. Typifying the slightly surrealist and disquieting side of Boyd & Evans’ work, and featuring the recurring motif figure of a man seated with a cane, it sold for £4,000. [Lot 252]
This pencil drawing by Dame Laura Knight (1870-1977) of her friend, the famous ballet dancer Anna Pavlova, achieved £2100 against an estimate of £600-800. According to an inscription on the back, the drawing was in Pavlova’s possession until her death in 1931. The signed pen and ink work, inscribed with a 1920 date, depicts Pavlova in a Grecian style dress – possibly her costume for 'Autumn Bacchanal', which Knight saw her perform several times. According to Knight's autobiography, Oil Paint and Grease Paint, she was first invited to Pavlova's London home in Golders Green to draw portrait studies for a book commission, but Pavlova enjoyed her company so much that she kept inviting her back. Knight praised her heavily-lidded eyes which 'had a look not belonging to this world' and 'her exceptionally long, full throat, her little body, her tapering limbs', which inspired her ballet teacher Enrico Cechetti to proclaim that 'no one has ever had the line of Pavlova, and no one ever will!' (Lot 3)
A rare early work depicting a house situated among trees by Jessica Dismorr (1885-1939) sold for £5,800. Dismorr was a pioneer who participated in almost all of the avant-garde groups active in London during the early 20th century and was one of only two women members of the Vorticist group - the British equivalent of Futurism. It is not the first time Roseberys have offered work by Dismorr. In 2017, two early Fauvist-inspired paintings from her time in France, View of Les Baux (1911) and The Memorial Cross (1912), sold for a combined £13,200. (Lot 18)
Eager bidding also emerged for an intriguing British School portrait of a First World War soldier in an unusual frame. Likely to be a work by an official war artist, it made £3,000, well above the £300-500 estimate. Official war artists were established during the First World War with the help of government-sponsored schemes. When the Imperial War Museum was established by an Act of Parliament in 1917, it was given the task of collecting material, including art, that related to the war. The government also directly commissioned and purchased art from the best artists of the day, including Sir William Orpen, Paul Nash, Sir Stanley Spencer, Wyndham Lewis, CRW Nevinson, David Bomberg and John Singer Sargent, among many others. This picture is reminiscent of the modelled faces and long stares in Eric Kennington's celebrated painting The Kensingtons at Laventie (1915) now in the Imperial War Museum. (Lot 7)
Another success in the sale was John Walker’s (b.1939) The Lesson (1984), one of an iconic series by the abstract painter created a year before he was nominated for the Turner Prize. Inspired by abstract expressionism and post-painterly abstraction, Walker’s earlier works often combined apparently three-dimensional shapes with "flatter" elements. This example sold for £2,600. (Lot 118)
For further information please contact Peigi Mackillop firstname.lastname@example.org +44 (0) 20 8761 2522
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