Bonhams sale of British and Irish art yesterday (28.5.14) was headed by a roll-call of modern greats – Lynn Chadwick, L.S. Lowry, Henry Moore, Eric Gill, Euan Uglow and no fewer than four Ivon Hitchens in the top ten prices achieved.
The colourful paintings by Hitchens who was bombed out of his house in 1940 and who painted for 40 years from a caravan at Petworth West Sussex, came from a single owner collection of 15 pictures – the largest such collection to come to the market. Produced over three decades the collection of Hitchens pictures sold for total of £812,100 and was 100% sold. The top price was £79,300 for 'Poppies against a Grey Background'.
Ivon Hitchens the son of a painter, and the father and grandfather of painters, started exhibiting in the 1920s going on to exhibit all over the world. He was part of the collection of artists known as the London Group. When his house was bombed during WW2 he took up residence in a caravan on a patch of woodland near Petworth in West Sussex where he worked for the next forty years. Over the years he added to his encampment with a series of buildings. He is best known for his panoramic landscape images using strong blocks of colour. He was exhibited in the British Pavilion at the 1956 Venice Biennale.
This collection of 15 of his works are from the Estate of Elizabeth Creak who died last year and were sold to benefit the Elizabeth Creak Charitable Trust to provide scholarships in agriculture to support new blood in farming and to finance projects to help farmers survive and thrive in the challenging modern agricultural environment.
Top lot in the sale was a Lynn Chadwick sculpture titled Two Reclining figures which sold for £446,500.
Matthew Bradbury, Head of British and Irish Art said: "Two reclining figures is among Lynn Chadwick's most tender sculptures. The couple display an intimacy rarely seen in the artist's sculptures up to this point. It follows on the from the earlier monumental figure groups The Watchers (1960) and Three Elektras (1969) and ushered in a new period for Chadwick where he produced life-size bronzes on a more regular basis. 'Two Reclining Figures' is from a small edition, only four, and further editions with Chadwick's customary shiny faces were in this instance not produced."
Lynn Chadwick was born in London and worked as a draughtsman for several London architects until serving as a Royal Navy pilot in the Fleet Air Arm (1941–4). After the war he worked as a freelance designer until 1952.
The top LS Lowry in the sale, titled Industrial Scene went for £176,500. The Henry Moore painting, Six Standing Figures, sold for £146,500. And the Eric Gill, Study After Eve made £116,500. The Euan Uglow painting Striding Nude, Blue Dress made £74,500. Irish works were also well received with £69,700 secured for JB Yeats Island Men Returning.
NOTES FOR EDITORS
Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son & Neale. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street and Knightsbridge; and a further three in the UK regions and Scotland. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Carmel, New York and Connecticut in the USA; and Germany, France, Monaco, Hong Kong and Australia. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and valuation services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments go to www.bonhams.com