The word “fab” could have been coined for the upcoming Sotheby’s Made In Britain sale on Tuesday March 20 (with viewings from Friday March 16). It incorporates some of the best-known names in British modern and contemporary art, from Henry Moore and Bridget Riley to Mark Wallinger and Damien Hirst, and takes in media from painting to photography to pottery by Lucie Rie.
A hugely eclectic sale spanning the 20th century to the current day, the auction incorporates a number of influences and collectors. Pieces from the collection include George Kennethson’s Spirit of Weston (estimated at £15,000-£25,000), a rare modernist carving from Purbeck stone from the 1960s, an expression of the artist’s desire to convey the common thread of human experience across boundaries of geography and time – as well as a pencil and gouache on card by Alfred Wallis entitled Barque and Lighthouse (£20,000-£30,000) and Kate at Alerta, a charming oil on canvas by Winifred Nicholson (former wife of Ben) of her daughter Kate picking flowers in a Mediterranean meadow. Showing off the artist’s skills with a lovely crisp and subtle colour palette, it is estimated at £25,000-£35,000.
Work by Francis Bacon and the School of London includes a Screaming Pope Fragment dating from 1953-1954, an oil on unstretched canvas estimated at £7,000-£10,000, as well as a photograph of the great man himself by Neil Libbert, dating from 1985 and estimated at £800-£1,200. There is also a Patrick Heron gouache on paper, Emerald, Violet, Brown, Blue, Orange: February-January 1971 (£12,000-£18,000), from the collection of Ann Jellicoe and Roger Mayne, who were associated with the St Ives school. And for connoisseurs of a very different kind, there is a screenprint by Banksy, Pulp Fiction, dating from 2004 and estimated at £12,000-£18,000. It features John Travolta and Samuel L Jackson in gun-toting mode.
“These are works that were designed to be seen and enjoyed, to be lived with and loved, and I truly believe there should be no hierarchy in what we collect,” says Robin Cawdron-Stewart, Sotheby’s modern and postwar British art specialist and head of sale. “The world of modern British art is wonderfully accessible, with estimates in this sale starting from only a few hundred pounds.”