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Cancellation under the EU Consumer Rights Directiv… Read more PROPERTY FROM THE ESTATE OF LORD JACOBS

Cup and Saucer II

Cup and Saucer II
signed, numbered and dated '2/3 Roy Lichtenstein '77' (on the base)
painted bronze
43 ¾ x 25 ¾ x 10in. (111.1 x 65.4 x 25.4cm.)
Executed in 1977, this work is number two from an edition of three.
Leo Castelli Inc., New York.
The Mayor Gallery, London.
Acquired by Lord Jacobs in 1977, and thence by descent to the present owner.
J. Cowart, Lichtenstein: Roy Lichtenstein 1970-1980, London 1981 (illustrated in colour, p. 151).
ROY LICHTENSTEIN, exh. cat., London, Tate Gallery, 1993 (installation view illustrated, p. 12).
J. Rondeau and S. Wagstaff (eds.), Roy Lichtenstein: A Retrospective, exh. cat., Chicago, The Art Institute of Chicago, 2012-2013 (installation view illustrated, p. 355).
London, The Mayor Gallery, Roy Lichtenstein Sculpture, 1977, no. 2 (illustrated in colour, unpaged).
Special notice
Cancellation under the EU Consumer Rights Directive may apply to this lot. Please see here for further information.
Further details
This work will be included in the forthcoming catalogue raisonné being prepared by the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation.
Sale room notice
Please note the estimate for this work is £ 450,000 – 650,000 and not as stated in the printed catalogue

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Tessa Lord
Tessa Lord Interim Acting Head of Department

Lot Essay

Acquired shortly after its creation by Lord Jacobs, and held in his distinguished private collection ever since, Cup and Saucer II is a rare work from Roy Lichtenstein’s celebrated series of bronze still-life sculptures. Begun in 1976, and pursued for the next year, these works extended the language of his paintings, translating the artist’s graphic images of everyday objects into three dimensions. Standing over a metre in height, the present work is the largest of two depicting a cup and saucer, with languid curls of steam rising up from its interior like brushstrokes. Other works in the series depict mirrors, lamps, a goldfish bowl, a teapot and drinking glasses, with examples held in institutions including the Museum of Modern Art, New York and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Unseen in public for over four decades, the present edition of Cup and Saucer II was last shown at the Mayor Gallery in London in 1977, with another edition exhibited simultaneously at Leo Castelli Gallery in New York.

Lichtenstein’s bronze still-life sculptures are thematically linked to his early paintings of American household commodities—from kitchen appliances to cups of coffee, hot dogs and slices of pie. In these works, much like his contemporary Andy Warhol, Lichtenstein aped the language of advertising and mass-produced imagery, turning a mirror upon the seductive gloss granted to commonplace objects. At the same time, the present work may be seen within the context of Lichtenstein’s interrogation of the still-life genre during the 1970s: a move that coincided with a wider appropriation of art historical languages, including Surrealism, Art Deco and Cubism. The increasingly conceptual quality of his work during this period—reflected in series such as his Entablatures and Mirrors—is borne out in his decision to embrace sculpture. By lifting his visions off the flat surface of the canvas, he restores them to the physical world to which their subjects belong. In doing so, he emphasises the shift from reality to fantasy latent in consumer culture: the cup and saucer, though now tangible, is abstract and otherworldly, its quotidian function long gone.

To create his bronze sculptures, Lichtenstein looked to lost wax casting. He began with studies and wooden maquettes, from which he created rubber moulds encased in ceramic. After steaming out the wax, bronze was poured into its place: once complete, the works were painted in a mixture of patinated black and polyurethane paint. Despite this semi-industrial process, Cup and Saucer II retains a decidedly painterly quality, reflecting the close connection that Lichtenstein perceived between the two media. The wispy curls of steam imbue the work with a sense of weightlessness that works in counterpoint with its solid form; their undulating curves, meanwhile, recall the aesthetic of the artist’s Brushstroke series, in which he translated Abstract Expressionist-style painterly gestures into graphic Pop icons. The work, as a result, appears caught between worlds—a humble drinking vessel, infused with lustrous, enigmatic allure.

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