Sotheby’s Modern British Week soared above estimate earlier this month to achieve a staggering £20.6million. Featuring our Evening and Day sales of Modern & Post-War British Art, Howard Hodgkin: Working on Paper & The Colourists: Pictures from the Harrison Collection, the sale saw bidding from over 300 collectors in 26 countries all around the world.
Our Evening Sale showcased the truly international nature of the British Art scene over the past century, with strong prices achieved for some of the most recognised and celebrated artists of the period. The sale was led by Sir Stanley Spencer’s Christ Preaching at Cookham Regatta: Punts by the River. Painted in 1958, and unseen in public for over half a century, the painting sold for £3,370,000.
The sale saw strong results for works by three of the leading artists of the mid-century period, Dame Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore and Ben Nicholson. Carved in 1959 in sleek white alabaster, Spiral, which came from an important American collection, went on to make £1,270,000, whilst Henry Moore’s Rocking Chair No.2 from 1950 – a sculpture initially conceived as a toy for his young daughter Mary, made £910,000.
The sale celebrated over four decades of work by Ben Nicholson, and was led by his monumental masterpiece 1966 (Ios), which had been purchased by the owner from Marlborough Fine Art in 1971. Drawing fierce bidding the work sold for £1,210,000 – the highest price for a work from the 1960s sold at auction.
The sale saw strong bidding for Post-War works, including Patrick Caulfield’s Red, White and Black Still Life, which came from the family of the Artist, and William Scott’s Berlin Blues 2 from 1965, which came from the collection of prominent Irish architect Dr Ronald Tallon. Estimated at £350,000 – 450,000, the work went on to sell for £730,000 – the highest price at auction for a work by the artist in over a decade.
The Evening sale was followed by our Day Sale, which together with a dedicated sale celebrating the work of Howard Hodgkin – Howard Hodgkin: Working On Paper achieved stand out results, with a packed auction room. Highlights included Alfred Wallis’ Ships With Flowering Trees, which sold for £93,750 and Hepworth’s Mother and Child, which, standing at only 4½in. in height, sold for £118,750.
Both sales saw stand-out results for works by Sir Winston Churchill, with all five works offered selling for a combined total of over £1.3million. The highest price went to his 1930s scene A View of Eze in the Alpes-Maritimes, selling for £514,000, with two further works sold from the Estate of Arabella Churchill to benefit her charity Children’s World.
Continuing on from the success of last year’s Howard Hodgkin: Portrait of the Artist sale at Sotheby’s, Howard Hodgkin: Working On Paper saw fierce bidding for prints and unique works by the artist. All bar two of the works sold in the room on the day, with many achieving well in excess of their upper estimates. Stand-out prices were achieved for works including Indian Waves No.32 and Swimming – the original artwork for Hodgkin’s London 2012 Olympic Games poster.
Proceeds from the sale will go towards funding a complete collection of Hodgkin’s graphic work to be given to a museum, as well as supporting a new edition of the artist’s catalogue raisonné, which will feature 189 prints and many unique works on paper.
Looking towards our Autumn sales season, we are delighted to announce our 18 September Made In Britain sale, to be followed by our 20–21 November sales of Modern & Post-War British Art. Should you wish to discuss any apsect of your collection or your interest in the field, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with one of our specialists.