Issue 46, Spring 2016

Editor's Letter: Lucinda Bredin "Bonhams prides itself on a certain innovative, buccaneering spirit. Or 'zigging' when everyone else is 'zagging', in the words of Ralph Taylor, our Senior Director of Post-War Contemporary Art, whom I interviewed for this issue.

Bucking the trend is also, of course, a characteristic of many of the artists that we have written about. This season, we are offering a number of extraordinary manuscripts. From the Caren Archive, a selection of which is on offer in New York in April, there is a fascinating collection of presidential and revolutionary documents. Of particular interest is the journal of that trend-bucker personified, George Washington, who wrote about his exploits during the French and Indian War.

Washington, a forensically minded decision-maker, would have got on very well with Sherlock Holmes, and indeed his creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. In April's Fine Books and Manuscripts sale, there is a leaf – a "sacred relic" as the author Professor John Sutherland calls it – from the manuscript of Hound of the Baskervilles. The page was detached from the manuscript when it was first published and sent to the US as a promotional tool. Even more gripping, it contains the first appearance of the great detective after his presumed demise during the curious incident at the Reichenbach Falls.

J.J. Audubon, aka the bird man, was literally a pioneer in that he went beyond the known frontiers into the wilderness in his epic quest to record North American birdlife. According to Bill Oddie, that other famous bird-watcher who writes for us about the wonderful illustrations to be offered in Los Angeles in April, Audubon discovered 25 species, and often had to break off from bird-watching to defend himself "from gunslingers and hostile locals".

Bonhams has also been a pioneer in bringing art from different territories to auction. In October, we began a new, stand-alone sale for African Contemporary Art. The second sale in May features a sensational statue, Anyanwu, by the celebrated Nigerian artist, Ben Enwonwu, an edition of which is at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. On page 34, Chika Okeke-Agulu, the noted curator, writes about an artist who was a Modernist, yet equally proud of his heritage. Bit like Bonhams, really.
Enjoy the issue."

Lucinda Bredin

  1. Page 8

    Blue riband

    Richard Williams tells the story of one of the most desirable motorcars ever built – the supremely elegant Bugatti Type 57SC

    "If I was asked to give my opinion on the best all-round super-sports car which is available on the market today," the world land and water-speed record-holder Sir Malcolm Campbell proclaimed, "I should, without any hesitation whatever, say it was ...

  2. Page 12

    Screen god

    Behind the craggy face and rumbling voice of the megastar, Robert Osborne discovered a shy, thoughtful man when he met Charlton Heston

    I had the great pleasure of working with Charlton Heston back in 1998, when he sat down with me to record a Private Screenings interview for Turner Classic Movies. Right from the start, he asked me to call ...

  3. OSKAR KOKOSCHKA (1886-1990) Sitzender bärtiger Mann 16 7/8 x 12 1/8 in ( 42.7 x 30.8 cm)

    Page 15

    Oskar wild

    Oskar Kokoschka was at the vanguard of the cultural whirlwind that swept through Europe at the start of the 20th century. William O'Reilly portrays an incendiary artist

    Oskar Kokoschka burst like a grenade into the combustible world of turn-of-the century Vienna. On being shown an exhibition of his work, the Archduke Franz Ferdinand exclaimed, "Someone should take this fellow ...

  4. After John James  Audubon (1785-1851); Louisiana Heron (Pl. CCXVII);

    Page 20

    Top flight

    Audubon did not just depict the natural world – he enhanced it. That is why his bird paintings are second to none, says Bill Oddie

    John James Audubon was more than an artist. He was a phenomenon. Over a period of 20 or so years, in the first half of the 19th century, he traversed the United States, determined to see ...

  5. Page 23

    Collect call

    When David Ross, the founder of Carphone Warehouse, bought a stately home, he had nothing to hang on the walls.He tells Lucinda Bredin how he solved that one

    I am standing with Jonathan Yeo, the portrait painter de nos jours, looking at his painting of David Ross, the co-founder of Carphone Warehouse, educational philanthropist, opera impressio and owner of ...

  6. Page 24

    A place in the sun

    Nigerian sculptor Ben Enwonwu ascended the heights as one of Africa's greatest modern artists – but he never lost touch with his roots, writes Chika Okeke-Agulu

    In 5 October 1966, a few days after the country's sixth independence anniversary, the Nigerian ambassador to the United Nations presented to Secretary-General U Thant an enigmatic sculpture. Called Anyanwu, it was by ...

  7. Page 27

    Case in hand

    Not even his creator could kill Sherlock Holmes – though he tried several times. John Sutherland unlocks the mystery of Sherlock's enduring appeal

    Arthur Conan Doyle was a firm believer in the afterlife (he also believed in fairies, but let that pass). If he is looking at 2016 from 'behind the veil', Sir Arthur would, for a certainty, be dumbstruck ...

  8. Page 30

    Washington's post

    The Presidency was made for George Washington. Owen Dudley Edwards looks at how he shaped the role for future generations

    George Washington (1732-1799) would have been bewildered if it had ever been prophesied to him that some Americans would honour him posthumously by eating cherry-pie on his birthday. The tradition originates in homage to the story that as a little ...

  9. Page 40

    Bonhams Restaurant
    Turbot charged

    Tom Kemble Bonhams Restaurant's award-winning chef, explains why he fell for a fish – hook, line and sinker

    Photography by Simon Wheeler

    Turbot has been a most highly-prized fish since classical times. In one of his satires, Juvenal recounts how the Roman emperor, Domitian, called together his ruling council to advise him how to cook a huge specimen. One of ...

  10. Page 42

    My favourite room
    Princess Michael of Kent

    A party in the splendid King's Gallery at Kensington Palace did not turn out as Princess Michael of Kent planned

    In 1688, Prince William of Orange and his wife Mary Stuart, elder daughter of the exiled King James II, arrived in London as the country's new rulers. William abandoned Whitehall Palace on the Thames because of his asthma ...

  11. Page 47

    Kultur club

    Berlin's art scene has one foot firmly in the future – while acknowledging its tumultuous past, writes Rachel Spence

    Berlin is a city of the mind as much as of the map. Its legacy has shaped our cultural psyche. Without Berlin, there would be no Walter Benjamin, no Dada and no Bowie. But it's also where Nazism rooted down ...

  12. Page 51

    Like a prayer

    The beauty of this figure of a Buddhist disciple is clear to all – Olivia Hamilton reveals its hidden meanings

    Give him a hand
    The figure holds his hands in front of his chest, left folded over right: he is Mahakasyapa. Most sculptures of the Buddha, his acolytes or bodhisattvas (enlightened beings) can be identified by stylised hand gestures, often known ...

  13. Page 62

    Inside Bonhams
    Golden touch

    Ralph Taylor, Senior Director of Bonhams Post-War and Contemporary Department, is in the midst of a glittering season

    It was an astonishing result for an astonishing sale. When Matthew Girling, Bonhams CEO, brought down the hammer on Frank Auerbach's E.O.W on her Blue Eiderdown V, the star lot in February's Post-War and Contemporary sale, there was ...

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