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PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF DENYS SUTTON
Denys Sutton (1917-1991), art critic and art historian, was a man of wide knowledge and of many interests. His career started with service in the Foreign Office but by the mid-1940s he had already published his first books, an anthology, Watteau's 'Les charmes de la vie', and a biography of Matisse, and communication on the arts was to be the area that he occupied for the rest of his life. In 1948 he became fine arts specialist for UNESCO, published Picasso, Blue and Pink Periods, and then spent a year as a visiting lecturer at Yale, publishing French Drawings of the 18th century and American Painting, and in the following year, 1950, Flemish Painting. The breadth of his interests was already established. He went on to combine working in journalism -- as art critic for Country Life and the Financial Times and as salesroom correspondent for the Daily Telegraph -- with more academic publications -- a Catalogue of the French, Spanish and German Schools in the Fitzwilliam Museum, with J.W. Goodison - and with biographies of Toulouse-Lautrec, Titian and Whistler.
These achievements were evidence of the wide-ranging knowledge and interest which, united with an attention to detail, perfectly equipped him for his 1962 appointment as editor of the arts magazine Apollo, the job that occupied him for the next twenty years. He revolutionised the journal giving it a gloss, personality and position that it had previously lacked and changing its focus to encompass collecting, contemporary issues and museums. As well as writing for Apollo himself -- sometimes whole issues -- he produced many further books and organised twenty or so exhibitions, both in this country and abroad. His final book, Degas: Man and Work, was published in 1986.
His concern with the history of taste and collecting -- most appositely shown in the context of the present sale by Christie's since the War 1944-1958: An Essay on Taste, Patronage and Collecting (1959) -- was no distant intellectual concern, and he put together an art collection that mirrored the range of interest manifest in his publications. The self-awareness that he brought to his purchasing was reflected in the introductory essay to a small but memorable exhibition held at Agnew's in 1965, Art Historians and Critics as Collectors. It was this knowledgeable discernment that informed Denys Sutton's selection of manuscript illuminations for inclusion in his collection. Ranging in date from the middle of the 13th century to the middle of the 16th century, the initials and miniatures are united by their high quality and visual appeal. Most of them were purchased in the early 1960s and Christie's is delighted to be able to make them once again available to a wider audience and discriminating collectors.