Harry Moore-Gwyn’s British and Continental Pictures auction at 25 Blythe Road on the 28th March will include some intriguing groups of pictures from private – and public – collectors, including works from the collection of Dr Alan Borg, former Director of the Victoria and Albert Museum.
Dr Borg’s collection of 49 lots includes prints and engravings, some alluding to his alma maters, depicting Westminster and Brasenose College. The Tower of London, where he began his career, and other buildings and places of personal interest such as the Foundling Hospital where he is Vice President, and Vauxhall Gardens, the history of which he co-authored a book in 2011 are also among these. But the largest element of the collection is in the region of 20 drawings and watercolours of designs for mostly First World War Memorials and Cenotaphs (and related pieces) which became a passion for Dr Borg when he was Director General of the Imperial War Museum (1982 – 1995). Dr Borg wrote a book on the subject (War Memorials, 1991) but his research was impeded by the fact that at the time there was no central record of them including their design and building. This led to the setting up The National Inventory of War Memorials in 1988 during his tenureship at the museum, which has recorded over 70,000 memorials in Britain. Estimates from this part of collection start £100 and go up to £1000.
The whole auction includes 245 paintings, watercolours, drawings and prints, and spans four centuries. Among the Old Master paintings in the auction are depictions of three birds of prey painted in the 17th and 18th centuries. It includes ‘A Rough-Legged Buzzard’ by Nicholas Spheyman, dated 1734. Nicolas Spheyman (died before 1751) is best known for his landscape paintings and his depictions of birds. Several of these works are recorded as hanging in the apartments of the Dauphine, Duchess of Burgundy, in the Palace of Versailles. This has an estimate of £7,000-£10,000. Among works from the 17th century is a pair of Circle of Codazzi ‘Architectural Capricci’ estimated at £3000-£5000.
Among the 18th century works, an early painting by Sir Thomas Lawrence of ‘Portrait of a Young Officer’ (dated 1783, painted when the artist was about 14), is estimated at £800-£1200 and ‘Portrait of a Gentleman Ship Captain’, English School, is estimated at £2000-£3000. A Roman School oil ‘Latona and the Frogs’ one of the lesser known vignettes from Ovid’s Metamorphoses is also estimated at £2000-£3000.
In the same auction is an interesting single owner collection that includes 19th century continental paintings of works by Eugene Isabey (1803-1886), Stanislas Lepine (1835-1892), Diaz de la Pena (1807- 1876), a painting attributed to Francois Bonvin (1817 – 1887) and later in the century, Louis Leopold Robert (1881-1935). Estimates for these range from a low £400, with the highest estimate for the Lepine at £1200. From the same collection are costume designs by Anthony John Walton (b. 1934) as well as three works by William Gear R.A. (1915-1997), painter and influential member of the ‘CoBrA’ art movement. In addition, the auction comprises of a collection of 22 pictures of Eton College, including paintings by George Bryant Campion, Sir George Bulteel Fisher, and works in the circle of Peter de Wint and John Varley, collected originally by one of its devoted alumni.
Among an interesting group of prints are the most contemporary pieces in the sale – the screenprints ‘Pumpkin 2000 Green’ and ‘Pumpkin 2000 Red’ by Yayoi Kusama a well-known figure in the contemporary art scene, both estimated at £6000-£8000. An exhibition of Yayoi Kusama’s paintings has just opened at the Omer Tiroche Gallery in Mayfair.
In the photographs section there are 19th and 20th century photographs, including ‘Man and a Boy on a park bench in Central Park’ by Diane Arbus, estimated at £3000-£5000, as well as a five photographs by Brassai of Picasso, including ‘Picasso in his Studio’. The estimates for these photographs range from £1000-£2,500.