Lowry, Hepworth and Moore Lead Modern & Post-War British Art Auction

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Launch Slideshow

Sotheby’s 18/19 June sale of Modern & Post-War British art features paintings, drawings, sculptures and studio ceramics by some of the most celebrated and sought-after makers of the past century. Spread across our Evening and Day sales, our June auctions showcase everything that is fresh, innovative and beautiful in British art, at price points to suit all.

Join us at Sotheby’s on 16 June for an afternoon of free talks celebrating a season of Modern British Art, including Ben Nicholson and the Modern Still Life by leading academic Dr Lee Beard, and A Day in the Studios with Kenneth and Mary Martin by Dr Susan Tebby, former assistance to Kenneth and Mary Martin.

Contact us now to reserve your place on modbrit@sothebys.com or 0207 293 6424

A Children’s activity booklet will also be available throughout the exhibition.

Lowry, Hepworth and Moore Lead Modern & Post-War British Art Auction

  • Property from the Neil & Gina Smith Collection
    Laurence Stephen Lowry, A Cricket Match, 1938
    Estimate £800,000–1,200,000
    Appearing for the first time on the open market in over twenty years, when Lowry’s masterpiece, A Cricket Match, last appeared at auction it set a world record price for a painting by the artist, prompting a plethora of cricket-inspired puns from newspapers, both national and local. And it is easy to see why, as the painting bears all the hallmarks of a truly great work by the artist. Depicting the very British pastime of cricket – a surprisingly rare subject in Lowry’s art – the paintings buzzes with activity, set within a scene framed by a large dilapidated tenement building.
  • Property from the Collection of the Late Pat and Penny Allen
    John Craxton, Greek Farm, 1946
    Estimate £100,000–150,000
    Part of the collection of the late Pat and Penny Allen, John Craxton’s Greek Farm captures the artist’s love affair with the Mediterranean. As a painter who continually sought adventure, romance and a life filled with vitality, Craxton found a natural home in Greece when he first visited in the spring of 1946. Greek Farm was painted in the first few weeks after his arrival, and just his good friend Lucian Freud joined him in Poros, whether together they sketched and painted for the next six months.
  • Henry Moore, Shelter Drawing: Seated Mother and Child, circa 1941
    Estimate £600,000–800,000
    Having left London at the start of the Second World War, Henry Moore returned to the capital in the summer of 1940 – taking up Ben Nicholson’s abandoned Hampstead studio. As the war progressed the capital came under increasing threat from air raids, forcing many to seek refuge in the deep Underground stations. Stumbling across the scene quite by chance, those sheltering caught Moore’s imagination, sketching them in-situ as part of his work as an official war artist. They became a message of defiance – of the strength and power of humanity – and ultimately one of hope.
  • Property from the Collection of the Late Richard Allen
    Dame Barbara Hepworth, Four-Square (Four Circles), 1966
    Estimate £200,000–300,000
    By the 1960s Hepworth was at the height of her career. Recognised globally as one of Britain’s greatest living sculptors, she had achieved numerous high-profile public commissions, exhibitions and presented Britain twice at the Venice and Sao Paulo biennales, winning the Grand Prix at the latter in 1959. As recognition grew, so too did her ambition, striving to create larger, monumental works with which her audience could physically engage. The result - Four-Square (Walk Through) - is a testament to this drive, with Four-Square (Four Circles) created as a smaller working model of the larger piece.
  • Property from an Important Private Collection
    Ben Nicholson, Still Life (Speckled) March 18 – 49, 1949
    Estimate £400,000–600,000
    In 1932 Nicholson moved into Barbara Hepworth’s studio in Hampstead, the beginning of a fruitful personal and artistic collaboration and a partnership that changed the course of the avant-grade in Britain for good. Together they travelled to Europe and forged lasting relationships with European Modernists such as Mondrian, Gabo, Miro and Calder which was to have a lasting impact over his work. At the heart of his work sat the still-life genre, from his earliest works of the 1920s and beyond to the 1950s and ‘60s, but perhaps his most accomplished period is that of the 1940s, the date of Still Life (Speckled) March 18 – 49, where he teeters on the edge of abstraction, with a rich, vibrant palette that draws in the viewer. Here is a true masterpiece of English Modernism.
  • Property from a Distinguished German Collection
    Henry Moore, Maquette for Reclining Figure: Hand, 1976-7
    Estimate £80,000–120,000
    Moore’s reclining figures are among his most celebrated and spatially sophisticated works. Whilst his first investigations of the form began in the 1920s, by the 1970s he had well and truly mastered the most technically complete expressions of the theme. Moore himself described the progression of his sculpture as ‘becoming less representational, less outwardly a visual copy, and so what so what some people would call more abstract; but only because in this way I can present the human psychological context of my work with the greatest clearness and intensity’. At just shy of 20cm in length Maquette for Reclining Figure: Hand embodies Moore’s unrivalled mastery and understanding of spatial awareness, creating an image that is both timeless and contemporary at the same time.
  • Property of a Gentleman
    Frank Auerbach, Head of JYM III, 1982
    Estimate £200,000–300,000
    Juliet Yardley Mills (JYM) first posed for Auerbach in 1956 when she was a professional model at Sidcup College of Art. It was to be the beginning of a friendship that spanned decades, with her final sitting in 1997 at the age of eighty. The two formed a close attachment throughout their forty-year working relationship, as JYM later recalled ‘We had a wonderful relationship because I thought the world of him and he was very fond of me. There was no sort of romance, but we were very close. Real friends. Sundays now I’m always miserable.’ The sincerity of their relationship and the depth of Auerbach’s knowledge of his subject mater is given life through this explosive, luxurious handling of paint, and the deep, direct frontal positioning of the sitter.
  • Property from an Important American Collection
    Euan Uglow, Beautiful Girl Lying Down, 1958-9
    Estimate £300,000–500,000
    Sensuous, visually compelling and underlined by a rigorous sense of order and visual analysis, Beautiful Girl Lying Down is one of Uglow’s most accomplished female nudes, a subject that gripped the artist throughout his distinguished career. Part of a generation of painters who countered the prevailing drift and resisted the pull of abstraction, Uglow turned his attention to still life, landscape and depictions of the nude form to push the boundaries and definitions of figurative painting through his own disciplined aesthetic. Shown as part of the artist’s major 1974 retrospective, the work appears on the open market now for the first time in over twenty years.
  • Property from the Collection of the Late Pat and Penny Allen
    Barry Flanagan, Acrobats, 1981
    Estimate £150,000–250,000
    Flanagan’s Acrobats, featuring the sculptor’s most celebrated subject, the hare, comes from the collection of the late Pat and Penny Allen – a couple who spent their lives immersed in the London art scene. Penny began collection at a young age, encouraged by her mother Lettice Colman, and had studied at Norwich Art School, Camberwell School of Art and later Central School of Art. At Central she became friends with many of the leading artists of the day – including Henry Moore – and would go on to exhibit alongside Prunella Clough, Ben Nicholson, John Piper and Keith Vaughan. After her marriage to the Australian airline pilot Richard Patrick Allen in 1958 the pair continued to collect together, amassing a collection that showcases the great breath and diversity of the British art scene.
  • Alison Watt, Madame Rivière - Fragment V, 1997
    Estimate £60,000–80,000
    One of Britain’s leading figurative painters, Scottish-born Alison Watt has long been fascinated by the history of art, and incorporates this into much of her work. This painting, bought directly from the Artist, is from a series of diptychs Watt painted in the mid-1990s that draw on the society portraits and erotic nudes of J.D. Ingres. Struck by Ingres’ work on a visit to the National Gallery, London as a child, his work continued to captivate her and in turn led to her being invited to become the National Gallery Associate Artist in 2006 (a post previously held by Sir Peter Blake).
  • Richard Lin, The Autumn 1970
    Estimate £100,000–150,000
    Born and raised in Taiwan, Richard Lin’s work sets the Eastern aesthetic theory of his birth-place in dialogue with contemporary European and American abstract movements of the 1960s and ‘70s. He harnessed within his sleek and stylish paintings this unique combination of East and West, ancient and modern, and through such cross-cultural works produced deeply contemplative paintings which won him critical acclaim across the globe. The Autumn 1970 was acquired directly from the artist in 1971, and June’s auction marks its first appearance in public in over forty years.
  • Property from a Private Swiss Collection
    Joe Tilson, Page 9 – Black Dwarf, 1969
    Estimate £40,000–60,000
    Having recently celebrated his 90th birthday, Joe Tilson is an artist famed for pushing boundaries in his work. Language and communication have always been at the forefront of his art, from works created in the 1950s through to those crated in the past twelve months, including for this year’s Venice Biennale. Page 9 – Black Dwarf comes from an exciting and engaging group of works created at the close of the 1960s. In a decade of great social, cultural, political and sexual shift, there emerged a new counterculture movement challenging the manipulation of the media and resulting in some of the most original and striking works of the artist’s lengthy career.
  • Property from an Important International Collection
    Patrick Heron, May : 1956
    Estimate £400,000–600,000
    1956 was a vitally important year for Patrick Heron. Although he had embarked upon his first forays into non-figurative work earlier in the 1950s, it was not until this year, when he made the series of works now known as the ‘garden paintings’ that he swum fully and decisively to abstraction. As abstraction came to rule his painting, Heron experimented more and more with the freedom of brushstrokes, making their interaction with the canvas the central narrative of his art. First shown at Heron’s 1956 exhibition at London’s Redfern Gallery, and later Wakefield City Art Gallery’s Vision and Reality show of 1956, May : 1956 remained with the Artist’s estate, and is appearing now for the very first time at auction.
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