On 30 June, 33 great works of British art will be offered in Defining British Art, a curated Evening Sale which launches Christie’s 250th anniversary in London. Since 1766, when James Christie first opened for business in St James’s, London, Christie’s has been a champion of British art and artists.
The artistic legacy of four centuries of British artists will also be celebrated by the Defining British Art: Loan Exhibition (until 15 July). Orlando Rock, Chairman of Christie’s UK, promises the sale and the accompanying exhibition will ‘break new ground for Christie’s, charting the evolution of British art over the last 400 years.’
Highlights of the Evening Sale include the full-scale six-foot ‘sketch’ for View on the Stour near Dedham, circa 1821-22, by John Constable, R.A. (1776-1837), the last great six-foot sketch in private hands (estimate on request), and Golden Hours, 1864, by Frederic, Lord Leighton (1830–1896), a celebration of youth, beauty, and love, which is offered at auction for the first time in 100 years (estimate: £3-5 million).
Never previously offered for sale, Portrait of Lucy Long, Mrs George Hardinge by Sir Joshua Reynolds, P.R.A., is one of the finest works by the artist to come to the market in a generation (estimate: £2-3 million), while Lucian Freud’s Ib and Her Husband, 1992 (estimate on request), was exhibited in the artist’s major retrospective, Lucian Freud: Recent Work.
Version No. 2 of Lying Figure with Hypodermic Syringe, 1968, by Francis Bacon (estimate on request), The Garage, 1929, by Sir Stanley Spencer (estimate: £1.5-2.5 million), offered from the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation, and Industrial Scene, 1951, by L.S. Lowry, each define a high point in the artists’ careers at moments when their invention established them as innovative geniuses of their generation.
Henry Moore’s ground-breaking 1951 modernist sculpture Reclining Figure: Festival, commissioned for the Festival of Britain in 1951, leads the sculpture section (estimate: £15-20 million), alongside works by Dame Barbara Hepworth and Lynn Chadwick.
The Loan Exhibition (free to the public) presents many outstanding British art works by artists such as Holbein, Stubbs, Landseer, Turner, Burne-Jones, Rossetti, Mackintosh, Lowry, Freud and Auerbach that have been handled by Christie’s in the last 250 years, including examples by leading international artists inspired by visits to Britain over the ages.