One of the last paintings by War Artist
Walter Sickert sells for £44,600 in London Auction
London - One of Walter Sickerts last great paintings, a 1941 view in Bath entitled Vineyards, captivated and mystified the art world when it was offered in the Modern & Contemporary British Art sale at Bloomsbury Auctions on Wednesday 26th November. After frenetic bidding on the phone and in the room, the highly desirable work was finally secured by a private London collector for £44,640.
Vineyards was produced in the year prior to Sickert's death, making it one of his last ever paintings. Geographically the work is a view of Roman Road in Bath, outside Bladud Buildings where Sickert had a studio in 1917. However, whilst the painting was on view at the auction house's Mayfair saleroom, the topographical relevance to Sickert and its execution in the final months of his life, fuelled speculation about the mysterious shadow-less figure hovering in the foreground of the painting. Perhaps this ghoulish figure, dressed in an Edwardian frock coat, was in fact the future spirit of the artist himself walking away from his studio for the last time, leaving behind him the uniformity and definition of the urban landscape on his final journey to the Unknown.
Before turning to painting, Sickert began his working life in the theatre as an actor and throughout his artistic career his works incorporate illusions and optical tricks that belie a deeper fictional narrative. He was famously quoted as saying, "all the greater draughtsmen tell a story." Perhaps this mysterious figure was the artist's last great acting role?
Vineyards was acquired directly from the artist by renowned music critic and personal friend Cecil Gray before Sickert died in 1942. Gray himself died in 1951 leaving the work to his only daughter who proudly displayed it in her drawing room for the rest of her life. After her death in the late 1980s, it was lent to Southampton City Art Gallery for exhibition and storage purposes, where it remained until earlier this week when it was put on display for sale at Bloomsbury Auctions.
Angus Maguire, Head of Modern and Contemporary at Bloomsbury Auctions said; "This important work is one of Sickert's very last paintings in what was an extraordinary career as a painter, one that continues to influence some of the most celebrated artists today."
The sale also saw works on paper from the artists early career fly past their pre7#45;sale estimates. The drawings of actors, music halls and theatres from London's East End were reminiscent of his life as an actor. They were left with Andrina Schweder, the sister of Sickert's second wife Christine Angus, after she died in 1920. The drawings relate closely to another group of sketches from 1922-3, with identical provenance that are now in the collection at Tate Britain.
Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions are a UK 'top 5' auctioneer of fine art and collectibles. As part of Stanley Gibbons we are the only UK stock-exchange listed firm of auctioneers and occupy the same stable as coin specialists Baldwin's, and Frasers Autograph's. Established in 1759, we have the broadest and most regular calendar of specialist catalogued sales in the industry, numbering over 150 per annum, and provide vendors and buyers alike access to market-leading specialist advice in any number of collecting fields. We operate from salerooms in Donnington Priory (near Newbury), London's Mayfair, Bristol and Godalming.
London - 27th November 2014