16 Works Spanning a Century of British Art

Launch Slideshow

November’s sale of Modern & Post-War British Art charts the fascinating journey of the British Art scene over the past century, from the heart of the Bloomsbury set through to the advance of the YBAs and beyond. The Twentieth Century was a period of radical change in terms of the social and political structure of the country, with two World Wars which brought massive upheaval. This dramatic shift is charted in the art of the period, all of which is captured in our November sale, a sale which celebrates the very best in British Art over the past century, with an exciting array of important and never before seen works.

Modern & Post-War British Art
21 - 22 November 2017 | London

16 Works Spanning a Century of British Art

  • Henry Lamb, Study for Lytton Strachey, 1912.
    Estimate £40,000–60,000.
    Known for their liberal approach to relationships and ground-breaking ideas, the Bloomsbury Group centred around the leafy Georgian squares of central London, and counted Henry Lamb and Lytton Strachey as two of its central figures. Strachey was a biographer and writer, and author of the must-read book of the time, Eminent Victorians, published in 1918. Lamb was first introduced to the group through his older brother Walter, and soon fell in love with Strachey, sketching and drawing him on several occasions, including this work , which forms the original study for Lamb’s portrait in the Tate, London.

  • C.R.W. Nevinson, A Dawn, 1914. Executed in 1916. Estimate £700,000–1,000,000.
    Unseen in public for over 30 years, A Dawn, 1914 is one of the finest images of the First World War that Nevinson ever painted, and one of the last remaining paintings of this period by the artist to remain in private ownership. Included in Nevinson’s seminal 1916 exhibition at London’s Leicester Galleries, the vast majority of the other works from this show are now housed in some of the most important public collections all across the globe. In A Dawn, 1914 the viewer is carried abruptly into the unforgiving light of an autumnal morning in Flanders – derived in large part from sights burned into the artist’s memory as an ambulance driver on the front line. It remains one of the most powerful images of the period.

  • Harold Gilman, A London Street Scene in Snow, 1917-18. Estimate £150,000–250,000.
    A London Street Scene in Snow is the perfect example of the Camden Town Group’s unique take on Parisian Fauvism. Much like their French counterparts Harold Gilman, together with contemporaries Charles Ginner, Robert Bevan and Frederick Gore, used colour a disruptive, shocking force, and were considered the radical contemporaries of the day. There is a beauty and stillness to the present work, created towards the end of the First World War. Gilman, who died only two years after the painting was executed and who is to be the subject of a major retrospective next year at the Djanogly Gallery in Nottingham, captures a very personal and distinctive form of Post-Impressionism, which itself is so inherently British.

  • Sir Winston Churchill, Landscape with Two Trees, 1922. Estimate £100,000–150,000.
    November’s sale features two fascinating paintings by arguably the most famous figure of modern history, Sir Winston Churchill. The Goldfish Pool at Chartwell was to be the last painting he worked on during his life, offered from the family of his bodyguard, Sergeant Edmund Murray, and Landscape with Two Trees , painted in 1922, comes from the family of Miss Maud Elgie, who between 1919 and 1921 had charge over the household’s nursery and Churchill and Clementine’s two eldest children. As with The Goldfish Pool at Chartwell you can sense the sheer enjoyment that Churchill took in the process of putting paint to canvas, with rich passages of thick, glossy impasto, and to stand before both works is to be drawn into Churchill’s world, and to understand a little of the history behind it is to be granted a private and privileged glimpse into the household of one of the greatest figures of recent times.

  • Eric Ravilious, Newhaven Harbour, 1935.
    Estimate £80,000–120,000.
    The subject of a number of recent exhibitions and publications, Eric Ravilious holds an enviable position as one of the most adept watercolourists of the past century. His career was to be a short one, being shot down in a plane off the coast of Iceland during the Second World War, but during the 1920s, ‘30s and ‘40s he captured the British landscape in all its glory .

    As part of our series of free Sunday Talks we are delighted to be welcoming Alan Powers, author of Eric Ravilious: Artist & Designer at 2pm to discuss the position of Ravilious alongside contemporaries such as Edward Wadsworth. To reserve your place email modbrit@sothebys.com or call +44 (0) 207 293 6424.

  • Edward Wadsworth, Convoy, 1941.
    Estimate £80,000–120,000.
    Throughout the course of his life the sea provided a constant and rich source of inspiration for Edward Wadsworth. From his Vorticist-inspired designs for the camouflaged ‘dazzle’ ships through to his Surrealist still life compositions of the inter-war years. Although never officially recognised as part of Kenneth Clark’s programme of War Artists, Wadsworth produced some of the most iconic images of Second World War period .

  • L.S. Lowry, The Rush Hour, 1964.
    Estimate £800,000–1,200,000.
    Our November sale is led by three masterworks by L.S. Lowry from a Private European Family Collection. As one of the most popular and beloved artists of the past century, Lowry captured the landscape and people that he encountered on a daily basis in his role as a rent collector. Lowry’s compositions buzz with activity, and The Rush Hour is a fantastic example of the artist’s adept style, drawing the viewer’s eye across the composition. Historian Michael Howard will be leading a free gallery talk discussing Lowry on Sunday 19 November. Contact us to reserve your place now!

  • Reg Butler, Study for Birdcage, 1949.
    Estimate £80,000–120,000.
    The post-war period saw the rise of a new wave of young British sculptors, amongst them Eduardo Paolozzi, William Turnbull, Bernard Meadows and Reg Butler. Study for Birdcage is the fully-realised prototype for the large-scale sculpture Butler crated for the Festival of Britain in 1951 – a government-backed attempt to inject optimism into the British art scene as the country itself struggled to come to terms with the aftermath of the Second World War. The large-scale sculpture itself remains, moved inside at London’s Festival Hall where it continues to catch the eye of Londoners and visitors almost 70 years after it was created.

  • Ben Nicholson, Sept 58 (Iseo). Executed in 1958. Estimate £400,000–600,000.
    A highlight of the November sale, Ben Nicholson’s Sept 58 (Iseo) captures an important interlude in the artist’s career when he moved, with his new wife the photographer Felicitas Vogler from St Ives to the continent, beginning what was to be a very European-focus in his art. Emerging at the very start of this exciting period of renewed creativity Sept 58 (Iseo) is a work of masterful subtlety, inspired by the light, colour and atmosphere that he experienced, and based around his most favoured subject, the still life tabletop. Sept 58 (Iseo) showcases the truly international scope of British art over the past century – and the broad and expansive recognition that artists such as Nicholson received.

  • Roger Hilton, Untitled, 1966.
    Estimate £70,000–100,000.
    Sotheby’s are honoured to be presenting works from the collection of the late Ann Jellicoe and Roger Mayne, two pioneering figures in the British arts scene in the post-war period. Jellicoe was a forward-thinking director and playwright, whose innovative ideas of theatre were well ahead of their time, whilst Mayne worked as a freelance journalist and photographer, capturing some of the most personal and insightful images of artists of the period, including Roger Hilton, whose 1966 composition was owned by the pair. In typical Hilton fashion the painting captures the bold, gestural style of one of the leading artists of the period, who alongside the likes of Terry Frost and Patrick Heron changed the face of the British art scene for good.

  • Dame Elisabeth Frink, Head, circa 1968.
    Estimate £80,000–120,000.
    As one of the most important figurative sculptors of the past century, the human figure remained one of Frink’s driving subjects throughout the course of her career. The present work , which dates from the late 1960s, stems from her questioning of the matter of masculine power. Throughout her career Frink was preoccupied with the nature of maleness – and we see in her sculptures a search for archetypes: her men are heroes, they are villains, there is strength but there is also inherent vulnerability.

  • Bridget Riley, Study for Point Movement, 1966. Estimate £40,000–60,000.
    Also being sold from the collection of the late Ann Jellicoe and Roger Mayne is Bridget Riley’s Study for Point Movement from 1966. Riley is widely recognised as one of the leading living British artists of the past century. During the 1960s her work garnered great international acclaim through her association with the Op Art movement and her inclusion in many of the ground-breaking group shows of the 1960s, alongside the likes of David Hockney and Howard Hodgkin. Riley’s energetic and innovative style of abstraction resonated with the atmosphere of cultural and social liberation in the 1960s, and her work informed not only the art world, but also the fashion and design of the period.

  • Barry Flanagan, Thinker on Computer, 1996.
    Estimate £120,000–180,000.
    Following the sale of Thinker on Rock in June this year, which set a new auction record for a work by Barry Flanagan, Thinker on Computer is being sold to benefit the Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell University. It features the most recognised and celebrated subject of the artist’s work – the hare – and places the creature on top of a computer monitor. A playful take on Rodin’s La Penseur, of The Thinker, Flanagan’s hare becomes a modern-day thinker, and is both humorous and poignant, allowing the viewer to bring their own interpretations to the work.

  • Craigie Aitchison, Winter Washing Line, Montecastelli, 2001. Estimate £60,000–80,000.
    When he died in 2009 the British art world lost one of its most unique and innovative voices. There was nobody quite like Craigie Aitchison in terms of the colourful and thought-provoking compositions that he created during his career from the 1950s onwards. Aitchison’s masterful ability to convey the mood of his paintings through a simple balance of shape, colour and tone helps to generate the languor and reverence of his works. Winter Washing Line, Montecastelli is one of four works by the artist to be included in the auction.

  • William Turnbull, Female Figure, 1990.
    Estimate £150,000–250,000.
    An artist whose work spanned the course of the second half of the century, William Turnbull is celebrated for his paintings and sculptures alike. He paid equal attention to each, and the painted surfaces of his bronzes are as beautiful as any painting he created during his career. Female Figure deals with Turnbull’s lifelong fascination with the archetypal female form, and as such they become ageless symbols of mankind and fertility. Female Figure is accompanied by two further works by the artist also to be included in the sale.

  • Jenny Saville, Cultural Fetish, 1992.
    Estimate £120,000–180,000.
    As part of the group of artists that rose to prominence in the 1990s and supported by Charles Saatchi (and included in his ground-breaking Sensation exhibition), Jenny Saville is best known for her arresting portrayal of the female nude, a subject steeped in art historical tradition, yet one which she has endeavoured to divorce from its inherent associations. Cultural Fetish was created when the artist was still in her early twenties, and soon after she graduated from Glasgow School of Art. In June 2016 Sotheby’s established a new auction record for the artist, when Shift (1996-7) sold for £6.8 million.


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