Lot 4
  • 4

Kenneth Armitage CBE, RA

bidding is closed


  • Kenneth Armitage CBE, RA
  • Monitor
  • inscribed KA and with the foundry mark Guss: H. Noack Berlin
  • bronze


Marlborough Fine Art, Ltd., London (acquired in 1962)
Mr & Mrs Irving Stone, Los Angeles (sold: Sotheby’s, London, 3rd July 2002, lot 156)
Purchased at the above sale by the present owner


Kenneth Armitage (exhibition catalogue), Marlborough Fine Art, London, 1962, no. 12, illustration of another cast n.p.
Sir Alan Bowness, ‘Kenneth Armitage: His Recent Sculpture’, in Motif, Winter 1963-64, illustrated p. 58
Tamsyn Woollcombe (ed.), Kenneth Armitage: Life and Work, 1997, no. KA98, illustration of another cast p. 51

Catalogue Note

In 1960 Kenneth Armitage was commissioned by Baron Philippe de Rothschild to create a sculpture for the central façade of Château Mouton Rothschild in Bordeaux. Rothschild’s patronage of avant-garde artists was well-established, and the yearly commissions given to artists such as Miró, Moore,  Picasso and Chagall to design labels for his wines are an integral part of Mouton Rothschild’s legendary appeal. In asking Armitage to produce a sculpture for the Château, Rothschild’s only stipulation was that the subject should have connection with the vineyards. Armitage chose the sun as his central motif, and the series of sculptures he created also have richly worked surfaces which recall the furrows of the earth and serried ranks of the vines. Over the course of a two year period Armitage created a series of works which culminated in 1963 with the piece entitled Mouton Sun. The present work is one of the largest of the group and bears the closest resemblance in form and scale to the final sculpture. Commenting on the present work, Sir Alan Bowness wrote: ‘The Mouton Sun left its formal imprint on most of the thirty or so new sculptures that Armitage made in 1960 and 1961. Of these the most important is the Monitor shown at Battersea Park in 1963 and permanently in the Kröller-Müller Museum at Otterlo, Holland. As can be seen in comparison with Armitage’s drawings; this is more obviously human in feeling than the Mouton Sun; it has recognisable legs and arms, although the body is expanded laterally and flattened into the same irregular straight-sided oval shape of the Sun’ (A. Bowness, op. cit., p. 57). Furthermore, Bowness notes that Armitage’s treatment of Monitor’s surface is roughened with indiscriminate patterns, which was a significant move away from the smooth finish of his earlier works. The greater scale of Monitor and Mouton Sun also led Armitage closer towards abstraction, though the forms are still reliant on human and organic sources.