RELEASE: Monumentally Modern - Masterpieces of 20th Century British Sculpture Lead Christie's Modern British Art Evening Sale in July

Christie’s is proud to announce details of the Modern British Art Evening Sale which will take place on 10 July 2013.


Christie’s is proud to announce details of the Modern British Art Evening Sale which will take place on 10 July 2013. Featuring 37 lots, the sale presents masterpieces of 20th century British sculpture, as well as works by leading artists of the genre including L.S. Lowry, Ben Nicholson, Peter Lanyon, Lynn Chadwick and Barbara Hepworth, among others. Leading the exceptional selection of modern sculpture is Sitting Couple by Chadwick (estimate: £1 million -1.5 million). The Modern British and Irish Art Day Sale and the Modern British and Irish Art sale at Christie’s South Kensington will take place on 11 July 2013. Both sales will present paintings, drawings and sculptures by some of the most important British and Irish artists of the 20th century.

The sale will also feature works from the collection of Tony Reichardt, one of the most pioneering British art dealers of the 20th century.  The collection features works by R.B. Kitaj, R.A. (1932-2007), Sir Eduardo Paolozzi, R.A. (1924-2005), Victor Pasmore, R.A. (1908-1998) and Lynn Chadwick, R.A. (1914-2003). For a dedicated press release please click here.

André Zlattinger, Senior Director, Head of Modern British Art, Christie’s London and Rachel Hidderley, Christie’s International Specialist and Director, Modern British Art: We are delighted to present some of the most important and monumental pieces of Modern British sculpture to come to the market in recent times, in a sale which spans over 100 years and celebrates our greatest British artists of the past century. Works of differing dimensions and media, which can be enjoyed both indoors and outdoors, are presented with estimates ranging from £20,000 – £1.5 million.”


Leading the sale is the monumental Sitting Couple by Lynn Chadwick (1914 – 2003) which is taken from the piece he created for the 1998 Venice Biennale, Back to Venice (estimate: £1 million – 1.5 million). Chadwick is regarded as one of the greatest sculptors of the 20th century; in 1965 he was awarded the International Sculpture Prize at the Venice Biennale, ahead of Alberto Giacometti. His sculptures, in their colossal scale, eloquently contemplate the dilemma of man. In Sitting Couple, the two figures sit apart but appear to lean ever so slightly towards each other. The genders are clearly defined in the male figure’s square and muscular shoulders and the woman’s shoulders sloping away at a far softer angle. Chadwick has discussed the reasons for blanked faces in his work; he understood body language to have a far greater power in conveying mood and character than facial features, which he felt to be limiting.

Model for sculpture for Waterloo Bridge marks an important moment in the canon of work by Dame Barbara Hepworth (1903 – 1975) (estimate: £400,000 – 600,000). This unique work is one of only five scale carved sculptures made for the unrealised commission for Waterloo Bridge in 1947. Coming at a time when Hepworth was exploring the production of sculpture on a more monumental scale, the wonderfully fluid and organic form demonstrates both the influences of the sea, St. Ives and her figurative work. As Hepworth’s first large public sculpture project, its importance cannot be underestimated.

Curved Form (Bryher II), 1961, belongs to Barbara Hepworth’s Single Form series, which she first approached in the 1930s and developed throughout her career (estimate: £1 million – 1.5 million). This sculpture has come from the collection of the late Leopold de Rothschild who acquired it in 1965 from Gimpel Fils, London. This group of works has become enmeshed with the story of the second secretary general of the United Nations, Dag Hammarskjöld, who tragically died in 1961, and his relationship with Hepworth. Hammarskjöld was a great admirer of the sculptor’s work, and had always wanted her to execute a scheme for the new United Nations building in New York. The two had talked about the nature of the site and about the kind of shapes he liked but the present work, Curved Form (Bryher II), was as far as they had got. Thus, in 1961, when the United Nations commissioned Hepworth to make a sculpture in his memory, she began with Curved Form (Bryher II) and in 1964 she delivered her largest ever sculpture, Single Form, to the United Nations.

Further examples of important modern British sculpture to be offered include Seated Man II by Dame Elisabeth Frink, R.A. (1930 – 1993) (estimate: £300,000-500,000). Frink represented the solitary male figure throughout her career. Such was her preoccupation with the motif that there is only one female image in Frink’s entire oeuvre, the Walking Madonna in the Cathedral Close at Salisbury. The male became a symbol of humanity and she explored within its form the complexity of the human condition, tackling not only the strength, courage, and beauty of mankind, but also its propensity for violence, brutality, and hatred. Frink was an active supporter of Amnesty International and her sculptures are a hauntingly implicit reminder of the contradictory powers at work throughout the world. It is Frink’s portrayal of the male figure that sets her apart and makes her one of the most profound sculptors of the human condition this century has produced.


Christie’s continues to dominate the market for works by Laurence Stephen Lowry (1887 – 1976). His internationally recognisable work provides an ever popular and very human glimpse into daily British life – predominantly in the north of England – between the 1920s and 60s; drawing largely on the artist’s own environment. Summer 2013 will see a major retrospective of Lowry’s work opening at Tate Britain, London.

The Modern British Art Evening sale presents seven works by the Manchester artist including Industrial Landscape (estimate: £800,000 – 1,200,000). Lowry has packed this grand composition with a plethora of his most recognisable motifs: the red terraced houses; the wrought iron gateway with the central lamp; football matches in progress; the railway bridge carrying a goods train; and a factory building and chimneys belching out smoke receding into the distance. All are recurring features in Lowry’s work. Further works on offer include Group of Six People (estimate: £150,000 – 250,000), and Family Group (estimate: £400,000 – 600,000), both of which display Lowry’s fascination with the human interactions of urban life, and a number of fine pencil drawings.

1942, Dec 29 by Ben Nicholson (1894 – 1982) was painted in Carbis Bay in Cornwall where the artist had moved on the eve of the second World War (estimate: £150,000 – 250,000). With materials scarce, much of Nicholson’s wartime work was executed on a small scale, revisiting many of his pre-war discourses, founded in his associations with contemporary European artists such as Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque and Piet Mondrian. He made various versions of the same composition, with subtle changes in the colour of one area reasserting the uniqueness of each version. This idea was perhaps borrowed from Nicholson’s neighbour in Carbis Bay, Naum Gabo, who made multiple versions of his own plastic constructions. The palette of this work seems to be drawn from the silvery grey skies and sandy beaches of St. Ives.  

Further highlights include Sitting Figure by Frank Auerbach (b.1931) which belongs to a group of works that date from 1966-68, which depict a seated or  reclining figure in an interior (estimate: £120,000 – 180,000). In these works, although there is a thickness in the application of paint, the surfaces are sometimes divided by thick lines and flatter, broader areas of colour are apparent.

The July sales feature a strong selection of works by Scottish colourists: Samuel John Peploe R.S.A. (1871-1935), John Duncan Fergusson (1874-1961) and Francis Campbell Boileau Cadell R.S.A. (1883-1937). Highlights offered in the Evening Sale include Black bottle, napkin and green apples by S.J. Peploe (estimate: £200,000 – 300,000). This work was created in Peploe’s most accomplished period of his career, when the influence of Cézanne was particularly apparent in his work. The artist’s meticulous preparation, boldness and use of block colour, is particularly notable in the present work - a tour-de-force of still life painting which exemplifies Peploe at his very best. The assemblage of objects and surfaces are exquisitely bound together in this work by Peploe’s ability to set areas of strong colour side by side and to offset these areas with a complex play of white tones.


Christopher Wood (1901-1930) spent time with fellow artists Ben and Winifred Nicholson at their home in Bankshead in Cumberland. Winifred Nicholson’s still lifes had a significant impact on Wood’s work, and on his return to Paris she sent him bunches of spring flowers in the post. Her influence can be seen in Wood’s Flowers in a white pot, painted in 1930 (estimate: £120,000-180,000,). The simplicity of the whitewashed background in this still life also shows Wood’s debt to the work of Ben Nicholson.



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