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Two exceptional private collections lead Bonhams Modern British and Irish Art sale
John Luke (Irish, 1906-1975), Mountain Composition. Photo: Bonhams.

LONDON.- A strong selection of works from two exceptional private collections leads Bonhams Modern British and Irish Art Sale in London on Wednesday 24 November. It includes Four Pears by William Scott (1913-1989) estimated at £150,000-250,000, and In the Park by William Roberts (1895-1980) estimated at £70,000-100,000.

Four Pears was painted in 1976 and, with its two companion works Three Pears and Five Pears, was extensively exhibited in South America in the late 1970s. It was inspired by a pear tree growing outside the artist's studio at Coleford in Gloucestershire. The painting has not been seen in public since it was exhibited at Irish Art in the Seventies: The International Connection in 1980.

Bonhams Director of Modern British and Irish Art, Matthew Bradbury, said: “The two collections which form the backbone of the sale were put together with an impeccable eye for quality. The works represent a wide range of genres and artists but are united by their emphasis on excellence. We are expecting a great deal of interest from collectors.”

From the same private collection as Four Pears come:

• Gainsford End Farm by Keith Vaughan (1912-1977). In 1964, Vaughan bought and renovated a row of derelict cottages on the outskirts of the village of Toppesfield in Essex, creating a weekend home complete with studio. The nearby small village of Gainsford End inspired six oil paintings over the course of a decade including Gainsford End Farm painted in 1976. It depicts a close-knit group of farm buildings contained within a tightly arranged composition and is typical of the artist’s late style. Estimate: £50,000-80,000.

• Key Torso by William Turnbull (1922-2012). During the mid-1950s William Turnbull created a sculptural group of large semi-abstract female figures, known as his Idol series. Using new titles, he returned to the theme again in the late 1970s and early 1980s as in Key Torso conceived in 1981 where Turnbull has taken an everyday object and turned it into a human form. Estimate: £50,000-80,000.

• Two works by Ivon Hitchens (1893-1979). Autumn Woods painted around 1948 and Summer Nude No. 2 painted in 1950. They are each estimated at £50,000-80,000.

The second collection consist of works which belonged to the late Lady Dugdale. These include:

• In the Park by William Roberts. Painted around 1925, the work is among a group of pictures from the first half of the 1920s that can be said to have connections to the artist’s own life. On his return in 1918 from war service in France both as a combatant and later a War Artist, Roberts settled down with his long-term girl-friend Susan Kramar. A child was born in 1919, followed by marriage in 1922. Families began to appear in his work – The Poor Family (1921-22, for example, and Happy Family of 1924. Although In the Park reflects other park scenes in his oeuvre it does feels very personal – the little boy with the football, for example, is about the age his own son would have been at the time. Last year, Bonhams sold Roberts’s Munitions Factory, also from Lady Dugdale’s collection, for £200,250. It had been estimated at £70,000-100,000.

• Hampton Court by Christopher Nevinson (1889-1946). Nevinson’s most recognisable works date from his time as an Official War Artist during the First World War. For most of his career, however, his output dwelt on more peaceful themes. Hampton Court is a typical example of what the artist called his ‘peace’ works. It celebrates the leisure pursuits of the British public in the immediate years of the interwar period and the canvas throngs with the lively hubbub of the summer regatta. Estimate: £50,000-80,000.

• Lilies of the Valley by Sir William Nicholson (1872-1949). The work was painted in 1927 and critics have noted its atypical ‘radiant sweetness’ as well as the boldness of the brushstrokes and the layering of tones. Estimate: £60,000-80,000.

• Portrait of an Old Man (Old Cretan) by John Craxton (1922-2009). Dated 1948, the drawing was first owned by Lady Peter Norton, the gallerist and friend and supporter of the artist. Estimate: £12,000-18,000.

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