• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 7637

    20th Century British Art

    12 December 2008, London, King Street

  • Lot 141

    William Turnbull (b. 1922)

    Janus 1

    Price Realised  

    William Turnbull (b. 1922)
    Janus 1
    bronze, stone and rosewood
    66 in. (167.7 cm.) high
    This work is unique and was conceived in 1959.


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    Patrick Elliott comments, 'The two-part works in which a horizontal beam is balanced on a tall, totemic form developed into a series of two- and sometimes three-part works: all the sculptures made between 1958 and 1962 featured two or more separate elements stacked one on top of the other. Giacometti had been Turnbull's most important point of reference from the late 1940s, but the multi-part works of the late 1950s are closer in spirit to the work of Brancusi. Just as Sungazer [1956] had incorporated two elements which had originally been conceived as independent works, so a number of Turnbull's sculptures of the late 1950s were composite structures ... During 1959 his sculpture and painting began to be less concerned with gestural marks and texture and more to do with flat surface. In the bronzes the rough, corrugated surfaces gave way to smooth, rounded forms. Developing from the multi-part sculptures were the sculptures made from a variety of different materials, namely stone, wood and bronze. On a visit to a timber merchant in north London, Turnbull chanced upon a stack of large rosewood logs - a rare find even in those days - and bought the lot. He had used wooden dowels and boards in a few early works but had not previously done any carving. Now he began to carve the logs, altering their form only minimally ... The stone parts were generally found at stonemasons' yards and were, like the rosewood, used in a hardly altered form. As in Brancusi's work, the traditional division between sculpture and base is eliminated: it is not possible to say where the base stops and where the sculpture begins because the two are united (see exhibition catalogue, William Turnbull: Sculpture and Paintings, London, Serpentine Gallery, 1995, pp. 48-9).

    The title for the present sculpture refers to the Roman god of doors and gates who symbolises beginnings and endings. Turnbulls' similar rosewood and stone sculpture, Janus 2, 1959 is in the Tate Gallery's collection.

    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.
    VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 15% on the buyer's premium


    Provenance

    with Offer Waterman, London.
    Private collection, North America.


    Saleroom Notice

    Please note that this work is signed with a monogram and dated '59' (on the base of the vertical bronze section).


    Pre-Lot Text

    PROPERTY FROM A DISTINGUISHED COLLECTION


    Literature

    A. Davidson, The Sculpture of William Turnbull, Aldershot, 2005, p. 107, no. 91, illustrated.