Sotheby’s in London have sold an original 1967 collage created by the Pop artists Sir Peter Blake and Jann Haworth in their 13th November sale. The work of art was familiar to millions of music fans around the world. The work, which was produced in collaboration with pop artist Jann Haworth, portrays the fictional character Sergeant Pepper along with the four Beatles. The 30cm by 30cm (12in by 12in) work was inscribed with the message “For M.J. from Peter and Jann”. Copies were included with the record and supplied for fans to cut out and keep. The collage was from the collection of architect Colin St John Wilson and was presented to Wilson’s wife by Sir Peter shortly after it was completed.
The insert is valued as it was created by one of the best known artists of the era for one of the best-selling albums of all times. It was also considered the first concept album. Critic Kenneth Tynan called “a decisive moment in Western Civilisation”. This rare and highly influential artwork was the centrepiece of 18 works from the Collection of the late architect Colin St John “Sandy” Wilson (1922-2007) which was offered for sale in Sotheby’s Modern & Post-War British Art Evening Sale.
Appearing on the market for the first time, 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.
James Rawlin, Sotheby’s senior specialist in modern British paintings, said the work was “a tangible slice of rock history”.
“Sergeant Pepper[‘s Lonely Hearts Club Band] had a huge impact on the cultural landscape – it was the first concept album, when music, story, image and studio expertise all came together,” he said.
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.