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Sotheby's to sell works by Britain's most sought-after artists, featuring a rare painting by Sir Winston Churchill
Sir Winston Churchill, Troops Going to the Front, 1917, 1027. Est. 150,000-250,000. Photo: Sotheby's.

LONDON.- On 9 – 10 June 2015, Sotheby’s London will bring to the market an exciting selection of fresh-to-market works by some of Britain’s most sought-after artists. The sale is characterised by a strong emphasis on important sculpture, including works by Lynn Chadwick, William Turnbull, Anthony Caro, Kenneth Armitage and Dame Elizabeth Frink. The sale will also offer an extremely rare painting of troops departing for the Front by Sir Winston Churchill, a classic industrial scene by L.S. Lowry and the finest group of early works by Winifred Nicholson to ever come to the market.

A Classic Industrial Scene by L.S. Lowry, Depicting Brindle Heath, Salford
‘no one else… has been so sensitively aware of the poetry of the English industrial landscape’1

The Church in the Hollow (est. £600,000-800,000) by L.S. Lowry showcases one of Britain’s best-known and best-loved artists at his very finest. One of eight works by Lowry to be offered over the two sales, the scene provides a snapshot into life in an industrial city. Indeed in the recent Tate retrospective, Lowry was put forward as one of the great ‘Painters of Modern Life’ alongside the likes of Manet and Caillebotte.

A Powerful Example of Post-War Abstraction by Patrick Heron
Painted at the high-point of an incredible burst of creativity and experimentation, Lemon into Cadmium – Ochre into Black: April-May 1959 (est. £400,000-600,000) ranks among a number of works that established Heron as not only one of the most important abstract painters working in Britain, but also a major voice in the International avant-garde.

The sale is characterised by a strong emphasis on important sculpture, including works by Lynn Chadwick, William Turnbull, Anthony Caro, Kenneth Armitage and Dame Elizabeth Frink.

In 1956, Lynn Chadwick won the grand prize for sculpture at the Venice Biennale, beating Alberto Giacometti into second place – no mean feat for a young, emerging artist competing against a well-established titan of sculpture. Chadwick’s Teddy Boy and Girl 1955 (second version 1974) (est. £500,000-800,000), from an edition of six, is a variation of his most iconic image, first shown in Venice at the Biennale. The Teddy Boys were England’s first manifestation of a youth sub-culture in the post-war era and this work taps into the energy of teenage rebellion in the 1980s.

Worked on by the hand of Henry Moore himself, Recumbent Figure is the sketch model for Moore’s masterpiece of the same name, which now resides in the Tate in London. Recumbent Figure (est. £20,000-30,000) is jewel-like in its size and quality, and is a window into Moore’s casting process. This work was given by the artist to painter and art collector Derek Hill, and is being sold to benefit the Derek Hill foundation.

Anthony Caro’s Serenade (est. £150,000250,000), comes to auction from the collection of esteemed gallerist André Emmerich. Emmerich had been responsible for Caro’s success in America, which was far beyond that of any other British sculptor of his generation, to the extent that almost every major collection of modern art, public and private and from coast to coast, had a Caro in it.

Caro said, ‘I’ve been trying to… make truly abstract sculpture, composing the parts of the pieces like notes in music. Just as a succession of these make up a melody or sonata, so I take anonymous units and try to make them cohere in an open way into a sculptural whole. Like music, I would like my sculpture to be the expression of feeling in terms of the material.’2

Painted in 1927, Troops Going to the Front, 1917 (est. 150,000-250,000) is one of the few works by Churchill to depict soldiers in the Great War. A photograph taken by F.J. Mortimer in 1917 inspired Churchill to paint this evocative canvas and the emotive scene shows soldiers waving farewell to their families and loved ones at Victoria Station as they leave to join the Front. For Churchill this image would have held a particular resonance as he had served on the Western Front in 1915. Little did Churchill know when he painted this work that a decade later on, war would break out for a second time, and that in his role as Prime Minister during this conflict, he would emerge as one of the greatest leaders of all time. Troops Going to the Front is a fascinating example of theme that Churchill painted rarely, and to which he did not return after completing this work.

The sale will also offer Churchill’s delicately detailed Flowers in a Green Glass Vase (est. £150,000-250,000), which comes from the collection of Senator and Mrs John W. Warner, Virgina, Ret.

Sir Jacob Epstein’s modelled portrait bust of Churchill (est. £60,000-80,000) captures a superb likeness of this eminent international figure. The sculpture was commissioned by the War Artist's Advisory Committee, and was executed in November 1946. Churchill gave Epstein six sittings for this portrait, usually dictating to secretaries whilst doing so. Created following Churchill’s revered leadership of the country during the Second World War, the richly modelled surface sympathetically conveys both the deeply affecting personal experiences of war yet also the sheer resolution of this great leader in the face of adversity.

The five works by Winifred Nicholson to be offered in this sale represent the finest group of early works by the artist to ever come to the market, from a private collection whose owners knew the artist very well. Nicholson is characterised by a deep absorption and fascination with colour, combined with a unique freshness and spontaneity.

During her ten year marriage to painter Ben Nicholson, the couple often painted the same subject, Winifred as a colourist, Ben more interested in form. In 2014, a major exhibition at the Dulwich Picture Gallery offered a rare opportunity to see the couple’s parallel views. As a result of the show, there has been a reappraisal of Winifred’s role as a leading figure in the advance of Modernism in the UK in the 1920s.

Quai d’Auteuil, daylight: Lily and Guitar (est. £60,000-80,000) is a product of Nicholson’s time in Paris in the autumn of 1932, where she completely embraced the Parisian art world making friends with Mondrian, Hélion, Giacometti and Gabo - purchasing works by all of them. Indeed, Winifred was the first British person to buy a painting by Mondrian, and successfully encouraged her friends to buy his works too. A further example of her work is Cineraria and Cyclamen (est. £60,000-80,000), an elegant depiction of her favourite subject - ‘My paint brush always gives a tremor of pleasure when I let it paint a flower’3.

The sale will also feature Party in the Studio (est. £25,000-35,000), a study for one of the Sir Stanley Spencer’s major works – which was bought directly from his studio, and is now appearing at auction for the first time. The watercolour and pencil drawing is based on the central panel in Spencer’s Cutting the Cloth tryptic, which sold at Sotheby’s for £2,393,250 in 2011 as part of The Evill/Frost Collection. The work is a true hive of activity, with figures sewing, sorting, drawing and doing a host of other tasks and illustrates how Spencer felt very moved by the way in which workers of all types humanised their environments.

A rare seascape work on paper by Lowry (illustrated middle, est. £15,000-25,000) is also to be offered at auction for the first time since it was purchased directly from the artist.

1 Sir Herbert Read
2 Anthony Caro, quoted in William Rubin, Anthony Caro, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1975, p.99
3 Winifred Nicholson quoted in Andrew Nicholson, ed., Unknown Colour, Paintings, Letters, Writings, by Winifred Nicholson, Faber and Faber, 1987, p.216

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