Modern & Post-War British Art at Sotheby's

On 13 and 14 June Sotheby’s is hosting a sale of Modern and Post-War British Art which will showcase fresh-to-market works. For many works, it has been decades since they have been on display to the public. To celebrate the sale Sotheby’s is also hosting a weekend of talks, tours and events on 11 and 12 June. Visitors will have the chance to chat to Sotheby’s specialists, have tours of the sale and attend talks with art historians, there will even be children’s activity packs for those visiting with their families.

All places are free and you can find out more by visiting: sothebys.com/modbrit

In anticipation, we’ve chosen a selection of our favourite pieces from the sale, we’ll be looking out for them next week!

Ivon Hitchens has been a longtime favourite of ours as we are drawn to his interplay of bright and muted colours. His subtle colours makes his work easy to place within an interior, they are guaranteed to add charm and character to a room, blending with and not overpowering an existing colour scheme. British painter Hitchens flourished in England during the 1920s, working as part of the London Group alongside painters like Roger Fry. The landscape in West Sussex where he had his home and studio served as his greatest inspiration, and he focused on the light, trees and water that surrounded him. This work ‘Holbrook’ below is a wonderful example of this landscape influence.

Estimate: £50,000-80,000

There are also some wonderful works by Patrick Heron in the auction including 'Complicated Reds' and 'Indigo Round Umber and Venetian and Into Ultramarine' below. These are typical of his 60s style, when he painted in the cleverly described 'wobbly hard edge' manner. He would often draw the shapes quickly, in a matter of seconds, before starting to paint. For Heron, this was a way of returning to the immediacy of drawing and maintaining a sense of energy.

Estimates: (left) £50,000-80,000 and (right) £12,000-18,000

John Piper is one of Britain’s most celebrated war artists and is famed for his paintings and prints of British landscapes. The British landscape is a setting he returns to time and again and this work entitled ‘Beach IIl’ is a classic example of this. His paintings and prints of British towns have in many ways become archives of these sites. We were particularly intrigued by this work for its mixture of both figurative and abstract styles. He also incorporates mixed-media; collage, pencil, felt tip, watercolour and gouache have all been used.

Estimate: £20,000-30,000

We were pleased to see the inclusion of Pauline Boty, who was an important figure in British Pop Art. She sadly died in 1966 at the young age of 28 and has been largely excluded from recognition. The Tate Britain now has one of her keys works ‘The Only Blonde in the World’ on display and she is now gaining some attention. The work in Sotheby’s sale is a small painted and mixed media collage entitled ‘Light my Fire’.

Estimate: £5,000-7,000

Painting the Modern Garden: Monet to Matisse at The Royal Academy of Arts

‘Painting The Modern Garden’ at The Royal Academy of Arts is undoubtedly one of London’s most stunning exhibitions of 2016. We visited last week and were truly taken aback by the beauty of the paintings on display. While Monet is at the centre of this exhibition, there are works by Renoir, Cezanne, Pissarro, Van Gogh, Matisse and Klimt to name a few. The exhibition promises to help you see ‘the garden in art with fresh eyes’ and its doesn’t disappoint.

Interestingly the natural garden subject seems to have enabled many of these avant-garde artists to work with a greater freedom than before, freeing their palettes and their brushstrokes. Throughout he exhibition you are greeted with Monet’s stunning gardens until ending in a grand finale; Monet’s great pastel coloured waterlily paintings.

The exhibition opens with a beautiful comparison - Monet's 'The Artist's Garden in Argenteuil' (pictured below left) is placed beside Renoir's painting of Monet painting in the very garden in Argenteuil (pictured below right). This sets the tone for the exhibition, an affirmative statement about the impact Monet had on his fellow impressionists and hints that he influenced not only the garden subject matter but the act of painting en plein air.  

There are some beautiful works by a less famous name, Spanish artist Santiago Rusinol. His paintings are more structured than the Impressionist works on display and convey spectacular modelling of light, like this work below which evokes the brilliant glow of sunset. 

We thought it would be lovely to also share with you some images of Monet's garden in Giverny. These are the gardens Monet spent nearly forty years in his house in Giverny, a period many argue were his most creative. In 1883 he and his family rented the house with its 2 acre land and by 1890 he had saved enough to buy it and the surrounding land. As an avid gardener himself, Monet worked alongside his gardeners and created precise designs and layouts for his garden's planting, resulting in a stunning display. Over time he built up the land, eventually buying a water meadow which he plated up with water lilies. These became the subject of his best known works and the water meadow is now one the garden's most popular features.