A collection of images by the Australian artist, Ethel Spowers, will be auctioned as part of the Prints sale in the Bonhams
New Bond Street saleroom on April 16.
The sale will feature one of the artists most unusual prints, never before- seen at auction. The print, The Island of the Dead, is a sinister presentation of the cemetery at the notorious Port Arthur penal colony, one of Australias most significant heritage sites but a rare subject for artists. It is estimated to sell between £10,000 to £15,000.
Among other highlights will be Spowers depiction of rain-soaked umbrellas entitled Wet Afternoon. The lot marks a pivotal point in Spowers creative development and is considered her most important work alongside Gust of Wind. It is hoped the print will follow the success of Gust of Wind, which sold in last years April Prints sale for a record-breaking £94,000 six times its estimated value.
First exhibited in 1930, the print shows Spowers maturing artistic style following her period under the tutelage of Claude Flight, one of the founders of the Grosvenor School and the leading exponent of modernist linocuts. Under his guidance, Spowers developed her signature artistic style, characterised by simple, reduced colour planes and bold, exuberant patterns as seen in Wet Afternoon. Another fine example of Spowers spell with the Grosvenor School is Giant Stride (1932-3), estimated to sell between £20,000 to £30,000
Ethel Spowers was an Australian artist, born in Melbourne in 1890. She attended art schools in Paris and Melbourne, before moving to London in 1929 where she became a student of Claude Flight at the Grosvenor School. Inspired by the modernist aesthetic of the Grosvenor school, Spowers ideas took a dramatic turn in the 1930s. She began to absorb the schools fresh ideas of design and composition which went on to define her style. Spowers zealously believed in artistic innovation, defending the modernist movement from its critics. In her final years, she stopped her creative practice but continued voluntary work at the Childrens Hospital in Melbourne.