• Brian Sewell - Critic & Collec auction at Christies

    Sale 13731

    Brian Sewell - Critic & Collector

    27 September 2016, London, King Street

  • Lot 185

    John Minton (Great Shelford 1917-1957 London)

    Bomb-damaged buildings, Poplar

    Price Realised  

    John Minton (Great Shelford 1917-1957 London)
    Bomb-damaged buildings, Poplar
    signed, dedicated and dated 'John Minton Nov. 1941/for Eileen.' (lower right)
    pen and black ink, grey wash on card
    15¼ x 19¼ in. (38.4 x 49 cm.)

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    The Blitz had begun in earnest in London in the spring of 1941, and on 19 March the Luftwaffe's heavy raid of incendiary bombs targeted dock installations along the length of the Thames. Areas of East London well-known and loved by Minton were particularly hard hit. The resulting damaged buildings in Wapping, Rotherhithe, and Minton's favourite area, Poplar, provided him with ample subject matter: war had created a type of landscape that had previously existed only in his imagination.

    Typifying his work of this period, the urban decay and damaged buildings are seen from an elevated viewpoint, looking down into abandoned rooms and streets. In this work, devoid of human figures, Minton presents a nightmarish and apocalyptic vision of inner London. As Frances Spalding notes, 'The pen-and-ink drawings and paintings he produced [at this time] sing the desolation of war. Though they evolved out of actual experience, he was not concerned with topographical accuracy, but with using what he saw to create a theatre of the soul, an arena in which to explore Kafkaesque feelings of wretchedness, guilt and alienation' (F. Spalding, Dance till the Stars Come Down, A Biography of John Minton, Sevenoaks, 1991, p. 40). Comparable works are in the Imperial War Museum; and the British Museum.

    It seems likely that this work is dedicated to Eileen Elizabeth Jefford (later Bell), a fellow student of Minton's at St John's Wood School of Art in the 1930s. Bell recalled how her fellow students Minton and Michael Ayrton were: "very much admired by me, Minton especially, and miles above my head".

    Special Notice

    Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.


    Possibly Eileen Elizabeth Jefford.