Before the summer break, a sneak preview of the forthcoming London sales

[08.07.2013]

 

The last major sales before the holidays are the sales of Modern and Post-War British artists at Christie’s and Sotheby’s. Here is a preview of some of the lots offered during the second week of July 2013 by some of the best performing British signatures of the decade.

Barbara HEPWORTH

This British artist is less well known than Henry MOORE, who is considered her male “alter-ego”. Boosted by increasingly present and committed collectors, her prices have nevertheless risen 233% over the decade.
No less than 13 works by the artist, of which 10 sculptures, will be offered from 10 to 17 July, including a large bronze entitled Curved Form (Bryher II) created in 1961 and that is expected to fetch between £1 million and £1.5 million ($1.5 million – $2.3 million) at Christie’s in London on 10 July 2013. If the bidding reaches Christie’s high estimate, it will beat the artist’s current auction record (Ultimate Form [The Family of Man], created in 1970, measuring 300 cm and that fetched $2.35 million on 7 November 2006 at Sotheby’s New York). While certain experts consider Barbara Hepworth’s art to be on an equal footing with that of Henry Moore, the market certainly does not reflect this view and her personal auction record is only one tenth of Moore’s (Reclining Figure: Festival, 1951, fetched £17 million, [$26.84 million] at Christie’s London on 7 February 2012).

Bridget RILEY

Over the past decade her prices have risen 183.6% and her auction turnover has tripled. Nine of her works will be offered for sale, including eight screen prints at Bonhams on 16 July (between $7,000 and $18,000). Collectors of Riley’s work will above all be focusing on a diptych entitled Parade 2 (2002, 227 cm x 528 cm) that was exhibited at the Tate in London the year it was created. Its estimated price range (between £300,000 and £500,000 [$455,760 – $759,600]) is coherent for a recent work by the artist considering a recent sale at £370,000 (Out there, a work created in 2004, measuring 130 cm x 390 cm, fetched the equivalent of $557,700 at Phillips de Pury & Company London on 29 June 2010). Between the sale of Out there and that of Parade 2, her auction prices have progressed +36%.

Lynn Russell Chadwick

Lynn Russell CHADWICK is one of the most appreciated sculptors of the decade and his prices have risen 158% since 2003. These July sales will be offering a diversified selection of his work including eight drawings at prices between $2,000 and $5,000 on average. Among the 13 sculptures also offered, there is a monumental sitting couple sculpted in Chadwick’s characteristically schematic shapes. Sitting Couple (1989-1990) is carrying a price estimate of £1 million – £1.5 million at Christie’s on 10 July (roughly $1.5 million – $2.3 million, measuring 255 cm x 351cm, Ed. 6/9). Christie’s is therefore hoping to generate a new record for the artist currently held by another version of the same work that fetched $1.65 million in 2006 (Couple on a Seat, 1984, Ed. 3/6, $1.864 million including buyer’s premium, Sotheby’s New York, 7 November 2006).

Elisabeth FRINK

With a price index up 93% and a doubled auction revenue over the last decade, this English sculptor, inspired by Rodin, sells almost exclusively in the UK (96.7% of her auction turnover). Between the 10 and the 12 July 2013, Christie’s and Sotheby’s will be offering no less than 25 bronze sculptures by the artist at a wide range of prices. The cheapest is a portrait of Benjamin Bernstein with an estimated range of £3,000 – £5,000 ($4,500 – $5,500, Ed. 6, 31 cm, on 11 July at Sotheby’s) and the most expensive are two masterpieces (Tribute Head I, II, III, IV: a Group of Four and Horse and Rider) with price ranges of £600,000 – £800,000 ($900,000 – $1.2 million) at Sotheby’s on 11 July. Here too, optimism is de rigueur since the two works, if they sell in that range, would beat her 2006 auction record for a bronze entitled Walking Madonna (1981) that fetched £330,000 (approximatively $610,000 excluding buyer’s premium at Christie’s London, 9 June 2006).

The sales will also have a “genteel” British eccentric aspect: Sotheby’s is offering two paintings by Sir Winston Spencer Churchill. Not exactly masterpieces… Near Venise will no doubt find buyers (as interested in history as in art) keen to acquire the product of the great British statesman’s favourite hobby for between £100,000 and £150,000 ($151,920 – $227,880) at the 12 July sale. Let us not forget that a landscape featuring several sheep fetched £875,000 when the same auctioneer offered the work in 2007 (Chartwell Landscape with Sheep, $2 million including buyer’s premium, Sotheby’s London, 13 July 2007).