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WORKS FROM THE COLLECTION OF DR DALLAS DOXFORD
Dr William Burton Dallas Doxford (1907-1994) was the grandson of Sir William Theodore Doxford. The Doxford family were famous for their Sunderland shipyard, and at the end of the 19th Century, dominating the shipbuilding business, the Doxford's yard was considered to be the leading shipyard on the River Wear.
Dallas Doxford was an eclectic collector. He took oriental studies at Clare College, Cambridge, and became a doctor of Philosophy at London University. His wide-ranging interests included chinoiserie, jade and netsuke and, through his friendship with Jim Ede and Ben Nicholson, British Art. A great traveller, he visited the United States in 1938 and built himself a home in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, where he lived until 1950. He then explored Mexico and Cuba, moved on to the Caribbean and settled in Trinidad in 1950 making his home there in a hill-top cocoa plantation.
The paintings by Alfred Wallis from this original private collection represent one of the largest groups of works by the artist to be offered for sale at auction.
The story of how Ben Nicholson and Christopher Wood met Alfred Wallis in St Ives is now legendary.
Nicholson recalled the day in August 1928 when he and Wood came up from Porthmeor Beach and, 'passed an open door in Back Road West and through it saw some paintings of ships and houses on odd pieces of paper and cardboard nailed up all over the wall, with particularly large nails through the smallest ones. We knocked on the door and inside found Wallis, and the paintings we got from him then were the first he made' (see E. Mullins, Alfred Wallis Cornish Primitive Painter, London, 1967, p. 107).
That chance meeting was to become one of the great milestones in 20th Century British art. Within weeks of their meeting, Wallis's paintings were being seen in London and he soon had a large number of admirers including H.S. (Jim) Ede, Herbert Read, Adrian Stokes, Margaret Gardiner (see lot 11), Barbara Hepworth, and many others.
Wallis himself was a most unlikely artist; semi-literate and reclusive he only started painting in his 70s when, as a retired fisherman and lonely after the death of his wife, he took up painting as he said 'for company'. The raw directness of his work secured the recognition of a small group of avant-garde painters and writers in London who ensured that his work would never be forgotten. He died of senile decay in 1942 at Madron, his funeral attended by Naum Gabo, Adrian Stokes, Margaret Mellis, Bernard Leach and Barbara Hepworth. Wallis's grave covering in Porthmeor Cemetary is glazed tiles designed by the potter Bernard Leach; it depicts a tiny man climbing the steps through the door of a tall white lighthouse.