Lot 30
  • 30

BARRY FLANAGAN | Left Handed Drummer

600,000 - 800,000 GBP
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  • Barry Flanagan
  • Left Handed Drummer
  • incised with the artist’s monogram and numbered 8/8 
  • bronze with dark brown and black patina
  • 250.2 by 175.3 by 94 cm. 98 1/2 by 69 by 37 in.
  • Executed in 1997, this work is number 8 from an edition of 8, plus 2 artist’s casts.


Waddington Galleries Limited, London
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2004


London, Waddington Galleries, Barry Flanagan, September - October 1998, p. 12, no. 4, illustrated in colour (edition 1/8)
Dublin, RHA Gallagher Gallery, Royal Hibernian Academy: 169th Exhibit, April - May 1999 (edition no. unknown)
Nice, Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain, Barry Flanagan – Sculpture et dessin, December 2002 - May 2003, p. 85, no. 23, illustrated (edition no. unknown)
Narborough, Narborough Hall, Barry Flanagan at Narborough, August - September 2003 (edition no. unknown)
Winterslow, New Arts Centre, Barry Flanagan: Hare Coursed, May - September 2009 (edition no. unknown)
London, Waddington Galleries, Barry Flanagan: Works 1966-2008, March - April 2010, p. 93, no. 34, illustrated (edition AC 2/2)


John Haldane, 'Exhibition Reviews: London and New York, Barry Flanagan and Hamish Fulton', The Burlington Magazine, Vol. 140, No. 1149, December 1998, p. 839, no. 64, illustrated (edition no. unknown)
Andrea Genovese, ‘Le passioni di Flanagan? Lepri saltellanti e ballerina’, Corriere della Sera, 27 January 2003, p. 33, illustrated (edition no. unknown)
Waddington Galleries, Ed., Barry Flanagan, London 2003, p. 31, illustrated (edition no. unknown)
Ray Merritt, Ed., Shared Spaces: The Joseph M. Cohen Collection, New York and Bologna 2009, p. 58, illustrated in colour (edition no. unknown)
Clare Preston, Ed., Barry Flanagan: Sculpture 1966 - 2009, London 2017, pp. 188-89, no. 110, illustrated in colour (edition no. unknown)


Colour: The colours in the catalogue illustration are fairly accurate. Condition: Please refer to the department for a professional condition report.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

Instantly recognisable as an example of Barry Flanagan’s celebrated series of hare sculptures, Left Handed Drummer from 1997 is a monumental and richly animated demonstration of the artist’s unique vision. A subject that occupied Flanagan’s imagination for over twenty years, the emblematic animal made its first appearance in his sculptural oeuvre as the Leaping Hare, inspired in 1979 by the sight of a hare running on the Sussex Downs, and stimulated an enduring fascination to which he has often returned. The elongated forms of the present work recall the earliest Leaping Hares through a sense of energy and motion, yet the theatrical incorporation of the drum and mallet revitalises the motif with anthropomorphising wit and playfulness. Cast in dynamic Rodinesque bronze, Left Handed Drummer elegantly illustrates Flanagan’s ability to balance traditional and imaginative methods and modes in a singular expression of vitality. Central to this artistic vernacular is the humanlike quality of Flanagan’s hares. Commenting on his bronze sculptures, the artist has articulated his desire to pursue themes that imbue human activity and feeling with greater symbolic power, hence his interest in an animal that has dominated popular mythology and fairytales across cultures and eras. He has stated that he finds animal expressions more motivating than those of people: “The ears [of a hare] are really able to convey far more than a squint in an eye of a figure, or a grimace on the face of a model” (Barry Flanagan in conversation with Judith Bumpus in: Exh. Cat., London, Tate Gallery, Barry Flanagan: Prints 1970-1983, 1986, p. 15). In the present example, the hare’s alert and prominent ears reflect a joy and confidence that pervades the figure, as cartoonish spindly legs propel him incessantly forward. This playful pose, with the drummer raised and marching on his hind legs, distorts the trope of classical bronze sculpture as it assumes a stance and size typically reserved for human subjects. Combining the conventional metonymic associations of the hare with the defamiliarising tactics of scale and whimsy, Left Handed Drummer epitomises the distinct balance of the classical and the peculiar for which Flanagan is best known.

Perfectly complementing this attitude, Flanagan’s use of bronze as his primary material for the hares aligns his work with academic sculptural traditions, yet his individual style of manipulating the surface was far from conformist. Opting for expression instead of representation, the rough texture of Left Handed Drummer reveals the artist’s modelling method, in which he built up slabs of clay to suggest form with minimal refinement. The outcome after casting is the luscious rippling effect of the uneven bronze surface, creating an illusion of the hare’s perpetually morphing presence from shifting angles or changing illumination. Flanagan believed bronze was best suited to his vision, as the dark, undulating surfaces reflect what he referred to as the “bloom and drama” of his work; the linear predisposition of his lean and sinewy subjects providing a kinetic tension that animates his sculpture with exuberant vivacity. Left Handed Drummer, a larger-than-life example of this dynamism, perfectly articulates Flanagan’s central concerns as a master of both academic skill and imaginative play.