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Auerbach and School of London artists lead Bonhams Post-War and Contemporary Art sale
Frank Auerbach, Reclining Head of E.O.W. II, £280,000-350,000. Photo: Bonhams.

LONDON.- Works by School of London artists feature strongly in Bonhams Post-War and Contemporary Art sale in London on Wednesday 7 March. Prominent among them is Nude on a Red Bed No 3 by Leon Kossoff, estimated at £300,000-500,000.

The term School of London was first used in 1976 in the foreword to the catalogue for the Hayward Gallery’s exhibition The Human Clay. The show celebrated the exploration of figurative painting by a group of 35 artists based in London. At the time, abstraction and conceptualism were the dominant trends in the Western art world. Two of the leading lights of the movement, Frank Auerbach (b1931) and Leon Kossoff (b1926), are represented by two works each in the Bonhams sale which also features a delightful watercolour by David Hockney (b1937), another of the The Human Clay exhibition artists.

Bonhams Global Head of Post-War and Contemporary Art Ralph Taylor said, “Kossoff and Auerbach are the two artists most closely associated with the School of London. The former has lived and worked in the capital all his life; Auerbach since he was sent to the UK from Germany to escape the Nazi regime. Friends as well as artistic colleagues, they – with Lucian Freud and Francis Bacon – defined figurative painting in the UK in the second half of the 20th century; these important examples are absolutely typical of the very best of this tradition.”

Leon Kossoff’s Nude on a Red Bed No. 3, dates from 1968 and was originally in the artist’s personal collection. He then gave it to his sister Ashley Kossoff, from whom it passed to the Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art, Oslo. Since 2003 it has been in private hands.

Other School of London works in the sale include:

• Reclining Head of E.O.W. II by Frank Auerbach, painted in 1969 and estimated at £280,000-350,000. This work was once in the collection of Lucian Freud who bought it in 1971. He was a great supporter of Auerbach and owned more than 40 of his friend’s paintings. Writing of this work in the spring edition of Bonhams Magazine, the art historian Alistair Hicks, author of The School of London, said,” Few images are as intense as this small painting by Auerbach. It was not his last painting of EOW. Yet it reads in retrospect like the mourning of a great love lost.”

• Birth, Marriage, Death also by Auerbach, executed in 1951. It was bought direct from the artist in the same year, and has been in a private family collection ever since. It is estimated at £150,000-200,000.

• John Asleep by Kossoff from 1987, estimated at £120,000-180,000.

• Reclining Model, Back View a charcoal, crayon and pencil work on paper by Auerbach executed in 1960-61. It is estimated at £120,000-180,000.

• Ianthe Cornwall-Jones a watercolour portrait on paper by David Hockney. Painted in 1967, and inscribed Carrenac – a château in the Lot Department in south west France where the work was executed – it was a gift to the present owner, a friend who had joined Hockney on holiday there. It has an estimate of £40,000-60,000.

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