Unrequited Love and Peter Blake's Pop Art Valentine

Unrequited Love and Peter Blake's Pop Art Valentine

W hat began as a sad tale of Valentine's cards and unrequited love saw something of a happy ending, as Sir Peter Blake's work, Boy With Paintings, was acquired for the nation. It will now be on permanent display at Pallant House Gallery in Chichester. This Acceptance in Lieu was negotiated by Sotheby’s Tax, Heritage & UK Museums Department.

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Sir Peter Blake, Boy with Paintings, 1957-9, oil and enamels on wood, Pallant House Gallery, Chichester (Accepted in lieu of Inheritance Tax by HM Government from the estate of Muriel Wilson and allocated to Pallant House, 2019) © Peter Blake. All rights reserved, DACS 2020.

A revealing early self-portrait that features a Valentine’s message for his fellow student Pauline Boty, the painting was acquired for the nation through the Acceptance in Lieu Scheme. The work comes from the collection of Muriel Wilson, a significant figure in the British art world, who recently bequeathed over 40 works to the Gallery.

Sir Peter Blake (b.1932) is a major figure in post-War British art. Boy with Paintings closely resembles his earlier work, On the Balcony, (1955-57), which features similar content, themes, and is done in the same style. The figure in the background holds a large Valentine’s Day card, an autobiographical reference to a card Blake created for fellow student, Pauline Boty. She was one of the founders of the British Pop art movement and the only female painter in the British wing of the movement. Sadly, Blake’s feelings were unrequited, a fact expressed in the tears which fall from the central figure's eyes. The work referred to, Valentine, featured in Sotheby's Modern & Post War British Art Sale in November 2019 selling for £287,500.

Two works by Sir Peter Blake, Queen, and New Ways in History - 2, will appear in Sotheby's upcoming Made in Britain sale on 17 March.

Modern & Post-War British Art
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