Bonhams Annual Sale of East Anglian paintings will take place at its Knightsbridge saleroom on 22 November. This year's sale features several works by artists associated with the famous School of East Anglian of Painting and Drawing at Benton End House, Suffolk (usually known simply as Benton End). Among them is 'The Orange Chair' by Benton End's co-founder Cecil Morris estimated at £20,000-30,000.
The Orange Chair was owned by Morris's friend Phyllis Bowen who had spent time at Benton End though she never pursued a career in painting. After World War II, Bowen and her husband moved to Wales where they settled in Laugharne, becoming neighbours to Dylan and Caitlin Thomas. A dedicated patron of British artists, Phyllis could claim to have known personally the painters of all the works in her significant collection.
The East Anglian School of Painting and Drawing was originally established in 1937 at Dedham, Essex by Morris and his partner of more than 60 years, Arthur Letts-Haynes. A catastrophic fire in July 1939 forced the school to look for new premises, and towards the end of that year it reopened at Benton End, a house on the outskirts of the market town of Hadleigh in South Suffolk.
The School was run on democratic lines. Formal teaching was discouraged in favour of learning through the act of painting itself and the atmosphere was that of a community of artists living and working together. Over the following 40 years, the School saw many well-known British painters pass through its doors including Lucian Freud and Maggi Hambling, one of whose works, High Summer Sea, is in the sale with an estimate of £2,000-3,000.
Among other paintings with Benton End connections are several from the collection of Glyn Morgan, a member of the community there from the 1940s onwards. These include Garden, Benton End by Morris (£4,000-6,000) and a portrait of Morgan by the same artist (£3,000-5,000). Some of Morgan's own work also features including his Landscape with Rabbits (£1,500-2,000).
Bonhams Director of Pictures at Knightsbridge, Emma Corke, said, "Benton End was a place of great inspiration and played a significant role in the development of art in East Anglia for more than 40 years. Morris and Letts-Haynes aimed to recreate the atmosphere of pure painting they had enjoyed in Paris in the first half of the 1920s and the number of artists great and small who passed through Benton End is a testament to their success."