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Sotheby's London to present property from a Chelsea collection in its Modern & Post-War British Art Sales
Frank Auerbach, Figure on Bed, 1968. Estimate: £300,000-500,000. Photo: Sotheby's.
LONDON.- Sotheby's London will present Property from a Chelsea Collection as part of its Modern and Post-War British Art sale on 13th & 14th November 2012. This important group of 56 works, by artists including Frank Auerbach, Lucian Freud, John Craxton and Graham Sutherland provides a unique and revelatory insight into many of the major artistic movements in Britain since the Second World War. Amassed over 20 years, the collection spans a period of immense stylistic change and includes many superb pieces that have never before been seen at auction, bringing together an exciting selection of fresh to the market paintings, drawings, etchings and sculpture by some of Britain’s most recognized artists. It is estimated to realize a combined total in excess of £1.5 million.

Frances Christie, Sotheby’s Head of Modern & Post-War British Art, said: “It was a huge thrill to step across the threshold of the Chelsea house from which these works originated. There, so beautifully displayed in room after room, unfolded a roll-call of many of the great names of Post-War British art, successfully juxtaposed with medieval alabasters and eighteenth century furniture. The sale will offer collectors the chance to acquire some wonderful works which will be making their appearance on the auction market for the first time.”

Frank Auerbach’s Figure on Bed (1968) estimated at £300,000-500,000, forms part of a series on the theme of reclining nudes running throughout the artist’s oeuvre, with his most colourful works produced during the late 1960s. With bold, bright colours, and a wonderfully rich, buttery texture in the thick application of paint, the work forms a vivid departure from his darker, earlier earthy tones, achieving an alluring visual intensity.

Auerbach’s Head of Sheila Fell (1954), estimated at £100,000-150,000, is a rare example of one of Auerbach’s early works in which the sitter makes direct eye contact with the artist. Having first met Fell whilst the pair were studying together at St Martin’s School of Art in London, Auerbach formed an intense attachment to the attractive and reserved young artist. In this early portrait he develops the worked graphic technique that he would later make use of in rendering contemporaries including Kossoff and Freud, as well as the small circle of women that formed the close core of his subjects during this early period. The sale also features a group of five works by Sheila Fell herself.

Paula Rego, After Zurbaran (2007), estimated at £100,000-150,000, is an impressive work by one of the most internationally sought after female artists working today, and holds a prominence in terms of both its size and position within the artist’s recent output. Rego draws inspiration from Zurbaran’s 17th Century Spanish masterpiece St Luke the Painter before Christ on the Cross (1660, Collection Museo Nacional del Prado), spinning the scene with a light, almost playful approach that makes the work so visually attractive.

Peter Lanyon’s Carthew (1950), estimated at £70,000-100,000, is characteristic of Lanyon’s output during the immediate Post-War period, and features in much of the literature surrounding the artist. The rich china clay deposits close to the village of Carthew in Cornwall inspired the wonderfully white palette of this work.

John Craxton’s Elegiac Figure (in Memory of Peter Watson) (1957-59), estimated at £60,000-80,0000, is a heart-felt tribute to Peter Watson, a pivotal 1940s collector, patron to Lucian Freud and Francis Bacon and founder of the Horizon review of literature and art and the Institute of Contemporary Arts. His premature death was deeply felt by Craxton, prompting this gentle, heart-felt tribute, which remained in the artist’s personal collection until the 1980s.

Lucian Freud’s Woman with an Arm Tattoo (1996), estimated at £40,000-60,000, features Freud’s well-known sitter Sue Tilley, the subject for his Benefits Supervisor Sleeping. In 1982, after a 34-year break, Freud returned to etching. Having previously experimented with the technique in the late 1940s, Freud was attracted by the possibilities presented by this time-consuming process, which served to capture his carefully considered graphic manner and acute observational awareness.

Graham Sutherland’s Teeming Pit (1941), estimated at £25,000-35,000, draws on the artist’s fascination with the technical processes in steel manufacture. Sutherland was sent to the giant steel foundries of South Wales, and in the combination of the architecture and almost alchemical processes involved, he found the sources for a powerful body of work, full of foreboding.

Sir Peter Blake’s The Criminal Core (1963), estimated at £20,000-30,000, represents a key piece of British Pop culture, having been designed for The Sunday Times Colour magazine 6th October 1963 issue. It is a vivid example of Blake’s aptitude for capturing the period’s fascination with the criminal undercurrent of London during the 1960s. Coming to auction for the first time, by an artist that is internationally sought after, the present work embodies the graphic boldness and stark originality that has become synonymous with Blake.

Appearing at auction for the first time, David Hockey’s The Ballroom, Santa Cruz (1966), is estimated at £20,000-30,000. The work exemplifies the instantly recognisable landscape style Hockney developed after moving to California, his adopted second home. One of three ink drawings by Hockney included in the sale, the work captures the bright and seductive charm that so attracted the artist to California during this period.

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