Sotheby’s London are offering an original collage created by the Pop artist Sir Peter Blake in their 13th November sale. The work of art is familiar to millions of music fans around the world. It is the original 1967 insert for The Beatles’ legendary Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, one of the best-selling albums of all time, and a landmark in musical history (one which the critic Kenneth Tynan called “a decisive moment in Western Civilisation”). This rare and highly influential artwork is the centrepiece of 18 works from the Collection of the late architect Colin St John “Sandy” Wilson (1922-2007) which will be offered for sale in Sotheby’s Modern & Post-War British Art Evening Sale.
Appearing on the market for the first time, the collage is estimated to realise £50,000-80,000. Peter Blake and Jann Haworth worked collaboratively on the design project and both won a Grammy award for their efforts. However Haworth’s contribution to the project has been minimised, and often completely written out of the story, in the intervening years. James Rawlin, Sotheby’s Senior Specialist, Modern British Paintings, commented: “Sir Peter Blake’s collage is a tangible slice of rock history. Sgt Pepper had a huge impact on the cultural landscape. It was the first concept album, when music, story, image and studio expertise all came together. In this work we witness the creation of the eponymous Sgt Pepper himself, with his familiar accoutrements of moustache and sergeant’s stripes, originally intended for fans to cut out and keep. Sandy Wilson was not only a celebrated architect, but one of the most important collectors and supporters of British art in the post-1950 period. Over 60 years, he built up a substantial body of significant and historic work and forged relationships with artists that would sustain both parties for years to come. Sotheby’s is honoured to offer for sale this and other landmark works from Wilson’s important Collection – none of which have previously appeared at auction.” Sgt. Pepper Album Sleeve It is almost impossible to envisage The Beatles‟ Sgt. Pepper album without its iconic and much referenced artwork, which anticipated and influenced the late 1960s zeitgeist.
Peter Blake was invited to collaborate with the band in March 1967, when he was already deeply influenced by folk art, Victoriana and collage. Introduced to The Beatles by his dealer Robert Fraser, he and his wife Jann Haworth, worked closely with Paul McCartney and John Lennon to create the distinctive imagery. While the cover, a photograph, featured The Beatles surrounded by an elaborately constructed set of cut-out figures of famous faces, it was the insert, created as a collage, (and thus, the only remaining tangible artwork) which depicted the celebrated Sergeant himself. Blake and Haworth presented the piece to Wilson‟s wife, MJ Long, shortly after it was commissioned. Appearing at Auction for the First Time: Other Highlights from The Wilson Collection: Roxy Roxy (est. £150,000-250,000) belongs to the significant and highly self-reflexive series of paintings by Blake generally grouped as „wrestlers‟ – featuring a cast of largely invented characters, each complete with a set of attributes and a story. Blake began going to wrestling matches in early youth, accompanied by his aunt and mother; wrestling would go on to become a powerfully resonant and recurring theme in his work. Roxy Roxy may be among the first of the band of female wrestlers which appear in the mid-1960s. Compiled as if by an imaginary maker, who has envisaged the painting as a kind of shrine, Roxy Roxy engages complexly with questions of authorship, myth-making and celebrity.