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25 Blythe Road selling intriguing 20th century artists' studio groups directly from the artists' families
John Nash RA, Nude on a Chaise Long, 44cm by 38cm; 17 1/4in by 15in. Estimate: 300-500.


LONDON.- Harry Moore-Gwyn, specialist of British artists mainly from the 19th and 20th century is curating the newest online auction of British and Continental pictures at 25 Blythe Road. Included in this auction of 165 lots, are works by John Nash, Edward Ardizzone, Edward Bawden, Pietro Annigoni, Augustus John, Sir Stanley Spencer and Ronald Searle. Estimates start at 50 up to 5000.

In addition the auction has three intriguing studio groups which have come directly from the artists’ families. A collection of studio works from landscape artist Myles Tonks RI, RBA (1890 - 1960) includes sketches and studies by his uncle Henry Tonks (1862 – 1937), a surgeon and official war artist in 1918, and one of the great art teachers of the 20th century whose work is very rarely seen on the market. There are four folios of works by Henry Tonks, including studies and sketches taken from the letters of the artist, and two separate drawings. The estimates for each folio are 200 - 300.

Henry Tonks was interested in art from childhood, and in 1893 he abandoned his successful medical career to become a teacher at the Slade School, and became professor in 1918. (However, he did work in plastic surgery during the First World War, as well as working as a War artist, where he executed pastel drawings recording facial injuries). Tonks remained at the Slade until 1930, and became the most renowned and formidable teacher of his generation. Among his pupils were Stanley Spencer, Mark Gertler, William Roberts and Christopher Nevinson.

Under him the Slade maintained its position as the dominant art school in Britain, and he was a major influence as an upholder of traditional values and an opponent of modern ideas: ‘I don't believe I really like any modern development.’ He set high standards for his pupils, particularly in draughtsmanship (his own forte), and he got on well with them, in spite of being notorious for his sarcasm and abruptness. Text Source: The Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artists (Oxford University Press).

This group of drawings by Henry Tonks dates from the earlier part of his life and shows the great charm of his work as a caricaturist and illustrator. The drawings have been in the family of Henry's nephew Myles Tonks since they were executed and have only very recently been re-discovered.

Benefiting from the teaching of his uncle, Myles Tonks excelled in painting on-the-spot landscape and coastal views. Tonks’ paintings were rarely signed unless created for exhibition or commission. Myles Tonks was also a GP from which he retired in 1958.

Percy Drake Brookshaw, (1907 -1993) one of the most accomplished commercial artists of the 20th century, is well represented in the auction with his studio group, also directly from his family by descent, comprising of posters he designed for London Transport, the Post Office, British European Airways and Cooks Travel (pictured left and right). Also included are a folio of wartime subjects, chronicling his life in the armed forces, amongst which there is a powerful pastel; ‘Bombs falling on London during a Wartime raid’ by the same artist. Prices for the posters are modestly estimated at 80- 180. And estimates for the folios of wartime subjects, portraits as well as scrapbooks by the same artist go up to 700.

The third group of studio works coming directly from the artist’s family are ten works by the Welsh born artist Jonas Plosky (1940 – 2011) comprising nine oil on board paintings, and one gouache. Plosky frequently exhibited at the Royal Academy and the Royal Society of British Artists, and his work can be found in the permanent collections of Glasgow Art Gallery, the National Library of Wales and the University of Portland, Maine, USA. Harry describes him as under-rated post war artist – and his figurative paintings often show an engaging and witty style.

A small coda in this category – this time just one painting from an artist’s family, is this charming watercolour and gouache (pictured left), entitled Battersea Fair by Night, by Clodagh Sparrow (1905 – 1957). It is signed in pen and dated 1955, titled verso with the artist’s address in Norland Sq. W14. Sparrow worked for the Norwegian High Command during World War II, producing maps for raids on occupied Norway. After the war she studied at Byam Shaw and the Slade. Estimate: 150 - 200.

The highlight of the particularly well-known British artists in the auction is an academic but nonetheless important work - Sir Stanley Spencer’s study in sepia wash over pencil, for his 1920 masterpiece Christ carrying the Cross now in the Tate Gallery (no.4117). Estimate: 2000 - 3000. It is signed and inscribed (verso): To Mrs Dorothy Eckersley from Stanley Spencer with best wishes, Oct 30th 1948… This is the composition I did immediately before the final composition…which Richard Carline possesses

The events were inspired by the artist’s childhood memories of Cookham, showing the religious event as observed from the windows of houses in Spencer’s home town. A closely comparable sketch was in the collection of Richard Carline (also now in the Tate) and another in the Stanley Spencer Gallery, Cookham. Another sepia wash drawing and a variation on the same composition was in the collection of W.A.Evill (Evill/Frost Sale, Sotheby’s London, June 2011, lot 151, sold for 21,250).





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