As a busy season of sales approaches, Dreweatts is excited to present a strong offering of paintings, sculpture and works on paper from 1900 onwards in our Modern & Contemporary art auction on 25 October. Here Francesca Whitham, Head of Sale, takes a look at just some of the notable works included in the auction.
Bernard Buffet (French 1928-1999)
We are thrilled to offer two outstanding works by Bernard Buffet. Lot 90 captures a sombre looking clown head placed starkly against a bright yellow background. The figure of the clown is a recurring and distinct motif in Bernard Buffet's artistic repertoire.
Lot 90: λ Bernard Buffet (French 1928-1999), 'Clown Au Chapeau Vert Sur Fond Jaune', Pencil and wax crayon | Est. £120,000-180,000 (+ fees)
Buffet's approach to depicting clowns is characterized by close-up views, emphasising their angular faces. He employs his signature black outlines to delineate the forms, which are set against a bold background, thus creating a striking contrast. Within these compositions, Buffet uses vibrant colours to highlight specific features such as the nose or eyes, making them stand out from the rest of the painting. Bernard Buffet's burgeoning talent earned him great recognition by the early 1950s, and in 1955 he was praised as one of the greatest post-war artists in France by the art review Connaissance des Arts. It was during this period that he first began exploring themes of the circus and more specifically the clown.
Lot 89: λ Bernard Buffet (French 1928-1999), 'Nature Morte Au Violon', Oil on canvas | Est. £80,000-120,000 (+ fees)
Also by Bernard Buffet, we have Lot 89, this striking still life of a violin. It evokes a sense of stillness and isolation. The violin rests precariously on the edge of the chair, leaning over the open crimson red case. The chair itself appears unsteady, tilting towards the left and set slightly off centre, a compositional approach that Buffet often used to create a sense of unease in his works.
Christo (American/Bulgarian 1935-2020)
Lots 177 & 178 relate to the Over the River project, an example of the kind of large scale, environmental installation synonymous with Christo and Jeanne-Claude. The project was to be constructed along a 42 mile stretch of the Arkansas River between Salida and Cañon City, to the east of the Rocky Mountains in south-central Colorado. The concept was to suspend multiple fabric panels high above the river creating a continuous impression of silvery, translucent material billowing over the water.
Lot 177: λ Christo (American/Bulgarian 1935-2020), 'Over The River, Project For Arkansas River, State Of Colorado', Pencil, charcoal, wax crayon and pastel | Est. £25,000-35,000 (+ fees)
Despite the project never going ahead, the present works are an important historic record of Christo’s designs and thought processes for large scale projects such as this. The works are executed in pencil, charcoal, wax and crayon with mixed media collage included in Lot 178. These impressive pieces are both signed and dated 2010.
Lot 178: λ Christo (American/Bulgarian 1935-2020), 'Over The River, Project For Arkansas River, State Of Colorado', Pencil, wax crayon, charcoal, pastel, enamel paint, wash, fabric sample and aerial photograph with topographic elevation, in two parts | Est. £150,000-250,000 (+ fees)
John Piper (British 1903-1992)
We also have Lots 21 & 22, both original designs for two tapestries commissioned by Reading Borough Council in 1974 for their new civic offices. The tapestries, entitled Urban Reading and Rural Reading aimed to celebrate the town's contrasting urban and natural landscape.
Piper knew Reading well. He and his family had lived at Fawley Bottom in the nearby Chilton hills since the 1930s and he was a freeman of the Borough. In 1949, he had been commissioned by Jock Murray, alongside his friend, John Betjeman, to produce a series of architectural guides as a successor to the pair's pre-war Shell Guides.
Lot 22: λ John Piper (British 1903-1992), 'Urban Reading', Watercolour, ink and gouache | Est. £6,000-8,000 (+ fees)
In Lot 22, Piper presents his vision of Urban Reading, with its mix of red brick Victorian architecture and earlier Bath stone archway. The chimneys in the distance represent the iconic Huntley and Palmer's biscuit factory which, until production ceased in 1976, was a significant part of Reading's economic life. By contrast, the landscape creeping in at the left hand side hints at the town's rural connection and wider situation in the Berkshire landscape.
The tapestries for which these works were designed, were produced in France by the illustrious Pinton weavers and are now housed at Reading Museum.
Lot 21: λ John Piper (British 1903-1992), 'Rural Reading', Watercolour, ink and gouache | Est. £6,000-8,000 (+ fees)
Hamish Mackie (British b. 1973)
Make sure you find time to visit our showrooms in Newbury this Autumn. It isn’t only the gallery space that is lined with treasures, but also our beautiful gardens which have been decorated with the most outstanding sculptures by wildlife artist Hamish Mackie. Born in 1973, the family spent the first few years of Hamish’s life between Hong Kong and the UK with his father’s job in the British Army, before settling on a livestock farm in Cornwall. He attended Falmouth School of Art and studied design at Kingston University before focussing full time on sculpture from the mid-1990s.
Lot 157: Hamish Mackie (British B. 1973), 'Bull Head', Bronze | Est. £8,000-12,000 (+ fees)
The four works (Lots 156-159) included in the current exhibition and sale at Dreweatts represent a cross-section of Hamish’s work. Each with its own story and inspiration, the group exemplifies his mastery of the sculpted form. All four sculptures are lost wax cast into museum quality bronze in the UK. Hamish’s love of animals and the natural world shines through and the care and attention given to each individual mark made in the clay and then reinterpreted in bronze, leaves the viewer in no doubt of the brilliance of each piece.
Don’t miss the camel just over the bridge !
Lot 158: Hamish Mackie (British B. 1973), 'Camel', Bronze | Est. £40,000-60,000 (+ fees)
Philip Alexius De László (Hungarian 1869-1937)
Finally, we take a look at Lot 31, this striking portrait of the exuberant and most beautiful Madame Henri Letellier, née Marthe Fourton. It was painted in Paris in 1912 by Hungarian artist Philip Alexius de László (1869-1937). This outstanding society portraiture captures Madame Leterllier’s beauty and high fashion sense as she stands holding a white rose with her sheer violet dress cascading around her arms. The sitter married Henri Letellier (1868-1960), proprietor of the leading Paris newspaper Le Journal and one of the wealthiest men in France in 1902. She was a favourite model of Paul-César Helleu (1859-1927) who made several portraits of her. She was also painted or drawn by John Singer Sargent, François Flameng, Antonio de La Gandara in 1903 and Giovanni Boldini, who painted her twice in 1907. The present work is included in the Philip de László Catalogue Raisonné.
Lot 31: Philip Alexius De László (Hungarian 1869-1937), 'Portrait of Madame Henri Letellier, Née Marthe Fourton', Oil on canvas | Est. £10,000-15,000 (+ fees)
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Wednesday 25 October, 10.30am BST
Donnington Priory, Newbury, Berkshire RG14 2JE
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- Tuesday 10 October: 10am – 4pm
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