Record Price For Barbara Hepworth Bronze At Christies Modern British Sale

Christie’s Modern British and Irish Art Evening Sale realised £18,973,000 / $29,749,664 / €26,505,281, with strong sell-through rates of 80% by lot and 88% by value. Bidders from 18 countries across 5 continents competed in the room and on the telephone for works by the leading artists of the category, including Dame Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore and Sir Stanley Spencer. 

Dame Barbara Hepworth’s stunning sculpture, Two Forms with White (Greek), far exceeded its pre-sale estimate, selling for £3,106,500 /$4,870,992 /€4,339,781 (estimate: £1.3 -1.8 million). The second highest price for the artist at auction, and the highest price achieved for one of her bronze works. This stellar result builds on the world record set at Christie’s in June 2014, when Hepworth’s Figure for Landscape sold for £4.1 million, setting a new benchmark for the artist. 

André Zlattinger, Senior Director, Head of Modern British Art, Christie’s London and Rachel Hidderley, Christie’s International Specialist and Director, Modern British Art: “This evening’s sale of Modern British and Irish Art saw strong demand for works by the leading British and Irish artists of the 20th century, led by Barbara Hepworth’s outstanding ‘Two Forms with White (Greek)’. This auction saw collectors competing from 18 countries across 5 continents, highlighting the increasingly global appeal of this dynamic category. Strong prices were achieved throughout the sale, from the remarkable group of sculpture – illustrated by the record achieved for the rare depiction of ‘St Joan of Arc’ by Eric Gill – to a 1955 masterpiece by Sir Stanley Spencer. A testament to the discerning and passionate eye of Edgar Astaire, the works from the collection in the Evening Sale were well received, led by the new record price at auction established for a work by Mark Gertler, ‘The Violinist’, which realised £542,500. For the second year, this Evening Sale is part of a week of ‘Impressionist & Modern Art’ and ‘Modern British and Irish Art’ auctions at Christie’s London, collectively presenting new and established buyers with opportunities across price levels. We look now forward to ‘The Modern British and Irish Art Day Sale’ on 26 June 2015.” 

Further leading highlights of the sale: 

Building on the success in 2013, when Christie’s set a world record for Sir Stanley Spencer, Hilda and I at Burghclere sold for £2,938,500/$4,607,568/€4,105,085 (estimate: £1,200,000-1,800,000). This painting is one of only two oils by the artist to portray Hilda, Stanley and their daughters. Also exceeding its pre-sale estimate, Spencer’s Wisteria at Englefield, sold for £962,500/ $1,509,200/ €1,344,613 (estimate: £ 500,000 – 800,000). 

Considered to be the artist’s most important work to come to the market, Eric Gill’s St Joan of Arc set a new world record for the artist at auction, selling for £2,210,500/$3,466,064/€3,088,069 (estimate: £300,000500,000). The work was originally purchased by Mona Anderson for £80 at Gill’s 1936 exhibition at the French Gallery. 

Henry Moore’s Rocking Chair No. 2 realised £1,034,500/$1,622,096/€1,445,197 (estimate: £800,000-1,200,000). This work was once in the prestigious collection of Aimée Goldberg, and represents Moore’s renowned theme of the union between mother and child which developed to include his Rocking Chair series. 

The new discovery, Going to Work by L.S. Lowry, achieved £1,022,500/ $1,603,280/ €1,428,433 (estimate: £700,000-1,000,000). Another work by the artist, An Old Street, also sparked strong competition realising £842,500/ $1,321,040/ €1,176,973 (estimate: £600,000 – 800,000). 

The continued demand for British Pop Art was highlighted by Sir Peter Blake’s Boys with New Ties, which sold for £662,500/$1,038,800/€925,513 setting a new world record price for the artist at auction (estimate: £250,000350,000). The seller had purchased Boys with New Ties directly from Blake in 1960, for £30. In Blake’s recycled frame (which still bears Leon Underwood labels on the reverse), she paid him in ten installments of £3 a week every Saturday in a pub in Notting Hill. 

The highly anticipated group of 11 works offered in the Evening Sale from the Edgar Astaire Collection was led by Mark Gertler’s painting The Violinist which realised £542,500/$850,640/€757,873, setting a new world record price at auction for the artist (estimate: £300,000-500,000). Study for The Violinist also established a new world record price for a work on paper by the artist, selling for £62,500/$98,000/€87,313 (estimate: £30,000 – 50,000). Realising a combined total of £1,778,000/ £2,787,904/ £2,483,866 to date, a further offering of 29 works from the collection will be sold in the Modern British and Irish Art Day Sale on 26 June 2015.

Photo: P C Robinson © artlyst 2015

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