The forthcoming Made in Britain auction has been announced by Sotheby’s. It is the third edition of a sale uniquely dedicated to celebrating the diversity and creativity of British art from 1900 to the present day, across Fine Art, Prints, Sculpture, Photography, Studio Ceramics, and Design. The sale encompasses almost 400 striking artworks illustrating the very significant role that Britain played in the development of modernism internationally. With estimates starting at just £200, and going up to £60,000, Made in Britain is the perfect opportunity for a new buyer’s first foray into collecting works by some of the most celebrated artists of the twentieth century. The auction will be held on 30 September at Sotheby’s London.
The late artist Michael Michaeldes is known for his abstract minimalist approach, which he developed in London in the 1960s alongside contemporaries including Bridget Riley, Mary and Kenneth Martin and Gillian Ayres. The impressive collection he amassed perfectly reflects the notion that the bond between artists has always been strong and serves to support and foster creative ideas. These works provide a fascinating insight into the progressive nature of the London art scene at the time – highlighting the period as one of great
A highlight from his collection is a rare and fascinating early proof of a print by David Hockney (illustrated right, est. £12,000-18,000). In his final year at the Royal College of Art, Hockney courted controversy by refusing to write the essay required for the final examination. Resisting the necessity for art students to have to explain themselves with prose, he argued instead that he should be assessed solely on his painting. When threatened with not being allowed to graduate, the artist etched his own diploma, wittily lambasting the academic establishment. In recognition of his talent and already growing reputation, the RCA changed its regulations and Hockney was granted a diploma. The collection will also features an exciting group of works by Robyn Denny, who designed the decoration for London’s Embankment underground station, and who passed away last year.
Man Sitting in a Wheelbarrow by L.S. Lowry (est. £40,000-60,000) is a small-scale, intimate painting by one of Britain’s best-known and best- loved artists. The work is accompanied by Lowry’s original purchase receipt to the previous owner, to whom he sold it for £100 in 1966. Oldham-born Helen Bradley began painting at the age of 65, to show her grandchildren what life was like at the turn of the century, and soon gained a strong international following for her charmingly quaint and naïve style. In the present work, Bradley depicts the bombing of London’s Seven Sisters Road (est. £15,000-25,000). Forward-facing in feel, the sale will present a number of exciting Contemporary works. Illustrated above right is an important early Tracey Emin painting, Untitled (Porchester Baths) (est. £5,000-7,000) from 1988. It is extremely rare for such an early work by Emin to appear at auction, and the present work is a beautifully raw example of her early, formative style.
Richard Hamilton is widely regarded as a founding figure of the British Pop Art movement, using an irreverent and witty approach to address wider political subjects and contemporary issues. This work, titled The Critic Laughs (illustrated above centre, est. £35,000-45,000), is a set of false teeth mounted on an electric toothbrush – a highlight of the recent Tate Modern exhibition. The piece is inspired both by Jasper Johns’ The Critic Smiles and Hamilton’s interest in post-war European design of consumer products. A sketch by one of the stars of the first generation of British Pop Art Allen Jones is also to be offered (illustrated above left, est. £3,000-5,000).
The Angus McBean photograph that launched the career of film and fashion icon Audrey Hepburn, currently the subject of a National Portrait Gallery exhibition, is a highlight of the photographs included in the sale (est. £2,000-3,000). This was the first of McBean’s five studio sessions with Hepburn, an advert for sun screen in 1950. The image was printed as a display card in chemists’ shops up and down the country – whereupon it was spotted by the director and casting agent of the film, The Secret People, who promptly offered Hepburn her first major film role.
Liam Gallagher and Patsy Kensit on the legendary cover of Vanity Fair in 1997 (est. £4,000- 6,000), shot by Lorenzo Agius, captures the zeitgeist at the height of Cool Britannia and Britpop. In this photograph, Agius defined why they were Britain’s It couple explaining ‘the whole thing for me was beauty and the beast – Liam was the ruffian who would wear a hat and smoke a fag in bed… Patsy was the babe’.
An intimate photograph of Francis Bacon’s studio by Perry Ogden (est. £3,000-5,000) offers a glimpse into the untouched exterior of where the mysterious artist lived and worked from 1961 until his death in 1992. Other highlights include Kate Moss captured behind the lens by Rankin and Chris Levine, who previously photographed The Queen with her eyes closing in 2004, an unflinching David Bowie in Terry O’Neill’s studio and the mesmerically violent Kray brothers photographed by David Bailey.
The sale also includes an impressive collection of British studio ceramics noted for their sculptural qualities, responding to the recent insatiable demand in the market. An important collection of works by Dame Lucie Rie and Hans Coper exemplifies the unique and forward-thinking spirit of Post-War British Design. Rie is credited for having elevated the position of ceramics to that of the ‘fine arts’. Born in Vienna in 1902, she escaped growing Nazi pressures like fellow artists of the period including Hans Coper, Frank Auerbach and Naum Gabo, to become part of the small group of European émigré artists that redefined British culture. She established herself as a Metropolitan potter – creating beautiful stoneware and porcelain vessels and achieving an unrivalled mastery of her characteristically bright and vivid glazes. Hans Coper came to Britain from Germany in 1939, and began as a studio assistant to Rie in her pottery at Albion Mews. He soon developed his own unique working style, producing totemic forms that today are collected across the globe. In a more contemporary twist, an early Grayson Perry self-portrait plate from 1986 (illustrated right, est. £15,000-20,000) is also offered in the sale, providing an exciting opportunity to acquire one of the first examples of Perry’s playful use of a traditional art form to express identity.
The exciting group of British prints included in the sale is led by Lucian Freud Painter’s Garden (illustrated left, est. £30,000-50,000); a beautifully made etching, which engulfs the An extremely rare Ben Nicholson linoleum cut, from an unrecorded edition of which there is only one other known impression, will be offered for £6,000-8,000. A similar linocut appears in the Tate Britain’s Barbara Hepworth retrospective. Stunning prints by the celebrated proponent of optical art Bridget Riley, who has recently achieved record-breaking results, will also be represented in the sale – from visually engaging works from the 1960s to colourful and contemporary designs, offered from just £1,000.