Peter Lanyon (British, 1918-1964) The dying boat themed marine study 25 x 75.7 cm. ( 10 x 29 7/8 in.)
Lot 65AR
Peter Lanyon (British, 1918-1964) Marine Study 25 x 75.7 cm. (10 x 29 7/8 in.)
Sold for £25,000 (US$ 42,099) inc. premium
Lot Details
Peter Lanyon (British, 1918-1964)
Marine Study
gouache on paper laid on board
25 x 75.7 cm. (10 x 29 7/8 in.)
Executed circa 1955


    Gifted by the artist to John Wells
    With Wills Lane Gallery, St Ives, where purchased by the present owner

    An inscription to the backboard of the present work by John Wells reads, 'From Peter Lanyon Studio ?1955. From John Wells Anchor Studio Newlyn'.

    In subject matter, the present work is close to Lanyon's Dying Boat (1947, whereabouts unknown), an illustration for which appears on the back of Marine Study along with a later boat study made in Dorset in 1958. Martin Lanyon has concluded that Marine Study was painted between 1950 and 1956 stating that '1955 is a very difficult year to confirm because Dad recorded so little of what he did that year as he moved family, home and studio from St Ives to Carbis Bay'. Marine Study is linked to Lanyon's 'Generation Series', begun in 1947 and deals with the themes of birth, growth and renewal, representing what he described as his 'initial breakthrough from Gabo-Hepworth-Nicholson abstraction'; the introduction of actual places made a painting 'richer' and more 'local'.

    Marine Study shows a hulk beached on a shore and left to rot in the ships' graveyard. At this time, after the Second World War, there were many old wooden boats that had come to the end of their useful lives and were laid up at Lelant on the Hayle estuary in St Ives Bay. They are the subject of Tom Early's 1950s oil Ships at Lelant (illustrated as front cover of Denys Wilcox & Michael Miller, Tom Early, the Catalogued Work , Sansom & Company, 2005). Lanyon would have been familiar with the area and it is poignant that his own grave in Lelant churchyard is close to this beach.

    On the right of the painting is the seashore, painted along the upright edge of the paper as Alfred Wallis might have done. The bows of the old boat are propped on sea-legs and are still relatively intact, but as the painting moves to the left the boat merges more and more into the waves. A wooden boat has a life-span similar to a human being's and as it decays in a tidal estuary it is reclaimed by the sea and returns to nature. The painting is a beautiful and intensely poetic reflection on life and death.

    This work is to be included in the forthcoming catalogue raisonné of Peter Lanyon currently being prepared by Martin Lanyon.

Saleroom notices

  • Please note this work is not to be included in the forthcoming catalogue raisonnĂ© by Toby Treves as this comprises solely oil paintings.
Lot symbols
  1. Penny Day
    Specialist - Modern British and Irish Art
    101 New Bond Street
    London, W1S 1SR
    United Kingdom
    Work +44 20 7468 8366
    FaxFax: +44 20 7447 7434
Similar items
Peter Lanyon (1918-1964) Lake, Opus 338 122 x 183 cm. (48 x 72 in.) Peter Lanyon (1918-1964) Blue Round Corner 182.3 x 121.3 cm. (71 3/4 x 47 7/8 in.) Peter Lanyon 'San Antonio Collage' Peter Lanyon (1918-1964) Boulder Coast 75 x 54.5 cm. (29 1/2 x 21 1/2 in.) Peter Lanyon (British, 1918-1964) Abstract Composition Traced slate monotype, 1949, printed in dark blue, with extensive additional work in pen and ink and gouache,  signed and dated in blue ink, 495 x 641mm (19 1/2 x 25 1/4in)(SH) Peter Lanyon (British, 1918-1964) Pink I 44.5 x 18 cm. (17 1/2 x 7 in.)