The Craigie Aitchison Studio and Estate Sale

Highlights of the sale will be on view at the London Art Fair, Islington 18th – 22nd January.

Sale date: Thursday 26th January 2012, Bloomsbury Auctions, 24 Maddox Street, London W1S 1PP

Viewing at Bloomsbury Auctions: 24th & 25th January 2012.

Click here to view online catalogue: The Craigie Aitchison Sale

Bloomsbury Auctions is delighted to announce the sale of the contents of the late Craigie Aitchison’s studio and items from his Estate on Thursday 26th January 2012. The sale at Bloomsbury Auctions will be a unique opportunity to acquire paintings and personal items from the Estate of Craigie Aitchison, his studio and homes in London and Italy.

Craigie Aitchison, who died in December 2009, was widely acknowledged as the greatest colourist of his generation. He was known and admired for the Mediterranean intensity of his palette, his flat, almost two-dimensional forms and simple icon-like compositions. His distinctive subject matter consisting of crucifixions, still lifes, landscapes, portraits and his beloved Bedlington terriers were all rendered in vibrant, luminous colour.

Amongst the highlights of the sale is Crucifixion October (2003), a powerful and intense oil on canvas in which the moody striation of the horizon recalls compositions by Rothko. Another focal point is the previously unseen Self-Portrait of 1980 (estimate £20,000-25,000). This painting is especially noteworthy as Aitchison later slashed it as his friends deemed it too flattering; it has since been relined by Martin Wyld, former chief restorer at the National Gallery. Another important oil painting to be offered at Bloomsbury is Girl in a Red Blazer (estimate £30,000-35,000) which depicts a friend of the artist John Hoyland, who apparently refused to turn up for the second sitting so Hoyland had to take her to the studio himself so the portrait could be finished.

Particularly interesting is an unfinished painting of a Golly against a bright pink background (estimate £3,000-5,000) which was found resting on the artist’s easel after his death. Barely visible under the surface colour, is a sketch of the 18th century Dunmore Pineapple Folly from the grounds of his grandfather’s estate near Stirling. This extraordinary piece of architecture obviously fascinated Aitchison, as it also appears in an unfinished pencil on canvas study (estimate £2,000-3,000).

Amongst the artist’s personal items in the sale are two bespoke black suits lined with turquoise silk; a couple of ties designed by Aitchison and produced by Culturalties; his shocking pink and white Triumph Herald car (estimate £1,000-1,500) and his white bed made by his friend Euan Uglow complete with small chandelier. However, admirers of the artist will be intrigued by the personal items from his home and studio such as his easel, painting table and palette as well as the numerous ‘props’ and ornaments he often used to populate his paintings.

Also included in the sale will be works from Aitchsion’s personal art collection by artists such as Barry Flanagan, Alex Katz and Rachel Kneebone and Euan Uglow. However it is the schematic oil on card Study of a Nude, found hidden in a box of papers in Craigie's house, which is especially exciting as it is a previously unknown work by Uglow (estimate £10,000-15,000).

Aitchison was born in Edinburgh and died aged 83 in 2009. He was regarded by many as one of Britain’s most Mediterranean artists because of his vibrant, flat and intense colour palette, two-dimensional forms and distinctive, simple icon-like compositions. As he said himself, ‘I do mostly people, black people, dogs, religious pictures and still lifes.’ However he was neither a colourist, nor a naïve painter nor even a Pop artist - in many ways Craigie Aitchison was a ‘one off’.

Note to editors: Craigie Aitchison was born in Edinburgh in 1926. He became active on the London art scene in the 1950s and studied at the Slade School of Art after previously training to be a lawyer. Aitchison exhibited extensively throughout his career and was elected a Royal Academician in 1988. He won the inaugural Jerwood Prize for painting in 1994, and in 1999 was awarded a CBE for his contribution to British Art. A major retrospective of Aitchison’s work was held at the Royal Academy in 2003. Craigie Aitchison died in London in December 2009.

For further press information please contact: Vanessa Clewes Salmon, email:

For general information regarding this sale please contact: Ross Thomas, tel: 020 7495 9494, email:

Bloomsbury Auctions - 04 January 2012