20th Century British & Irish Art is a collecting area with diverse and universal appeal, ranging from early British Modernism to the present day. Our sales feature paintings, sculpture and works on paper by the leading artists, and include the artistic movements of British Pop Art, Cornish Abstraction, the School of London, Vorticism and the Camden Town Group. Christie’s holds two specialist Evening and Day sales in this category annually at King Street and four specialist sales at our South Kensington saleroom.
2011 was the most successful year ever in the 20th Century British & Irish Art category, and Christie’s May and November sales represent the two highest value mixed-owner sales ever to be recorded in this category. Following on from the strength of the May sale we held our inaugural Evening sale in November, led by the Lord Forte Collection of Works by L.S. Lowry. Combined with the four sales at South Kensington, we achieved a combined sold total of over £50 million in 2011.
Exceptional prices achieved in 2011 for paintings in this category include a record-breaking price for Sir Stanley Spencer’s The Crucifixion; Samuel John Peploe’s The Coffee Pot, which holds the world record price at auction for the Scottish Colourist painter; Sir John Lavery’s Played!!; and 1935 (Painting) by Ben Nicholson. Past highlights and world auction records include David Bomberg’s Cuenca from Mount Socorro, Patrick Caulfield’s Sun Lounge, Encounter in the Afternoon by Paul Nash and Sir Peter Blake’s Loelia, World’s Most Tattooed Lady. Our sales include high profile, important works by key Irish artists including Paul Henry and Jack Butler Yeats, and most notably Christie’s hold the world auction record for a painting by William Scott, Bowls, Eggs and Lemons.
Christie’s are the world auction leaders in selling works by the ever-popular artist Laurence Stephen Lowry, and in 2011 we achieved a market share of 93% for auction sales of his work. In the last five years Christie’s has sold over 150 works by the artist and holds 8 out of the top 10 prices at auction. The world auction record for a work by L.S. Lowry was set twice by Christie’s in 2011: for The Football Match, which sold for £5,641,250 in May 2011, and for Piccadilly Circus, London, from the Lord Forte Collection, which equalled the record in November. Furthermore these are not only the joint world records for the artist at auction but also the highest price achieved at auction by any artist in the 20th Century British & Irish Art category. Christie’s also holds the world auction record for a work on paper by Lowry with St. Michael and All Angels, Angel Meadow, Manchester which sold for £115,250 in November 2010.
In 2011 Christie’s sold over 100 pieces of 20th Century British sculpture, including Lynn Chadwick’s Beast I for £265,250 in November, sold by the Art Institute of Chicago, and Seated Woman by Henri Gaudier-Brzeska for 157,250 in May. Past highlights include Dame Barbara Hepworth’s Sculpture with Colour (Oval Form) Pale Blue and Red, which remains the highest price at auction for a unique carving by the artist; and the world auction record for Dame Elisabeth Frink's Walking Madonna.
We are now actively collecting for our upcoming sales. With the expertise of nine specialists, we are not only the largest group of specialists but the longest established team working in this field and best placed to advise you about buying and selling 20th Century British & Irish Art. Our specialists travel regularly and would be delighted to assist you with any queries you may have. Please contact one of the specialists listed below if you would like to discuss, without obligation, a market appraisal of your work.