British works will take centre stage at this autumns sale of Old Master, Modern and Contemporary Prints at Sothebys
London on 19th September 2012. Alongside prints by leading international artists including Pablo Picasso, Edvard Munch and Andy Warhol, Sothebys sale will place special emphasis on works which celebrate the Best of British; exceptional works which depict famous British motifs and by leading British artists. A remarkable group of ten etchings by Lucian Freud will spearhead this particular section of the sale.
Sothebys sale will comprise a selection of nearly 200 masterful works which showcase 500 years of print-making. While headlines are often made by the works of great artists on canvas, many leading artists experimented with other media with equal success.
Best of British
A selection of ten etchings by Lucian Freud will lead the Best of British works. Highlights include Pluto (est. £100,000 150,000, lot 113), Kai (est. £50,000 70,000, lot 115) and A Couple, a print which Freud gave to his housekeeper, the present owner, in 1982 (est. £12,000 15,000, lot 112). A leading British artist of recent times, Freud reinterpreted portraiture through his unique and intense scrutiny of the human form. His fine and meticulous etched line is used to depict a variety of subjects from figures to landscapes. Although he produced a small collection of etchings in his early career, Freud made the medium a significant part of his practice from 1982 onwards. Reproduction was not the purpose of the etchings. Instead, each print was as important as the last, providing fresh revelation and expanding upon his primary medium.
Andy Warhol once said, "I want to be as famous as the Queen of England". The Best of British section of the sale features several examples of his prints of Queen Elizabeth II, including a complete set of four screenprints in colours with diamond dust from his 1985 series, Reigning Queens, estimated at £100,000 - 150,000 (lot 150), and a screenprint in a unique combination of colours with an estimate of £40,000 - 60,000 (lot 149).
A superlative example of Francis Bacon's finest print, Study for a Bullfight No. 1 - with a vibrant orange backdrop to the central dynamic motif - comes to auction with an estimate of £30,000 50,000 (lot 101).
Richard Hamilton is represented with several prints, the most iconic of which is his Fashion Plate, an offset lithograph and screenprint in colours, produced in 1969-1970, and retouched by the artist with cosmetics, estimate £15,000 20,000 (lot 126).
The Grosvenor School artists have enjoyed a resurgence of interest in their work. Sybil Andrews, one of the school's finest exponents, demonstrates her flair for angular compositional motifs in Flower Girls, a linocut in colours that have remained fresh since its execution in 1934 (estimate £25,000 35,000, lot 96).
The sale comprises three exceptional colour prints by Andy Warhol, which appropriate motifs from some of Edvard Munchs most universally recognised works. Striking, unique and ground-breaking, The Scream (After Munch), Eva Mudocci (After Munch), and Madonna and Self- Portrait with Skeletons Arms (After Munch) are a rare and enterprising offering from Warhol a meeting between two of the finest artists of the twentieth century.
Alongside these three unique works and many more by the artist in the sale, Sothebys auction will also include Andy Warhols Car Crash, one of the most powerful, challenging and provocative works made by any artist in the Post-War era.
But when you see a gruesome picture over and over again it doesnt really have any effect
and I thought people should think about them some time
Its not that I feel sorry for them; its just that people go by and it doesnt really matter to them that someone unknown was killed so I thought it would be nice for these unknown people to be remembered.
Car Crash, a unique screenprint, is estimated at £150,000 250,000 (lot 185). Based on an unidentified press photograph, this image of a mangled car with its driver lying contorted, face down within the wreckage, belongs to what is arguably the most extraordinary, strange and disturbing source image of all those used in Warhol's famous and seminal Death and Disaster series which he commenced in 1962.
Immediately and universally recognisable, Car Crash shows Warhols ability to turn from common commercial objects, such as Campbells Soup, to a darker side of American culture. Here he captures a moment of reality and of transition, when life is extinguished into death, the banal and the mundane into the exceptional and extraordinary.
Edvard Munchs woodcut, The Girls on the Bridge, from 1918, is estimated at £180,000 200,000 (lot 79). The motif recurs in the artists most celebrated compositions. Indeed, during the early twentieth century, Munch was so popular with his contemporaries that Norwegian postcards were issued depicting the same views as shown on the artists famous works. As was often the case with Munchs most successful images, he continued to revisit the motif of girls on the bridge throughout his career, producing a total of twelve known oil paintings, as well as a number of variations in lithograph, etching and woodcut.
Pablo Picassos Buste de Femme daprès Cranach Le Jeune is one of the artists most important and sought-after printed works (lot 84). When Picasso moved to the South of France in 1958, he found himself deprived of the printing facilities for colour lithography provided in Paris. Craving a print medium which allowed him to work spontaneously and independently in colour, he adopted the medium of the linocut, used locally for posters advertising bull fights. Printed in 1958, Buste de Femme is one of Picassos first colour linocuts, a technical tour de force, showcasing the artists incredible skill and ability to manipulate the medium. Inspired by a postcard Picasso received from his agent portraying Cranach the Youngers masterpiece Portrait of a Woman (1564), the work is estimated at £100,000 150,000.
Marc Chagall features prominently in the Modern section of the sale. Les Ames Mortes, the complete set of 96 etchings with the additional suite of 96 etchings on japan paper, from 1948, is estimated at £50,000 70,000 (lot 65). Also on offer is Celui qui dit les choses sans rien, the complete portfolio comprising 25 etchings with aquatint printed in colours, 1975-76, estimate £12,000 18,000 (lot 66), and The Story of the Exodus, the complete portfolio comprising 24 lithographs printed in colours, 1966, estimate £15,000-20,000 (lot 67). Exuberant in colour and joyous in subject matter is Douze Maquettes de Vitraux pour Jerusalem, After Marc Chagall, the complete set of 12 lithographs printed in colours (illustrated left, lot 68). The stained glass windows by the artist were originally designed in 1962 for the Synagogue of the Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical Centre near Jerusalem. Under Chagalls supervision, Charles Sorlier translated these designs into the present set of lithographs in 1964. The Hebrew Bible was Chagalls primary inspiration. This set comes to auction from a Swiss Private Collection with an estimate of £70,000 90,000.
Albrecht Dürers Saint Jerome in His Study (lot 8), is one of three master engravings that represent the pinnacle of the artists achievement in the medium. Dating from 1514, Saint Jerome is estimated at £100,000 150,000. The originality of the image lies in the evocative atmosphere and detailed setting, the window allows patterns of light to play on the arches, ceiling beams and floor, giving the composition a variety of tone and contrasts. The print was so popular with Dürers contemporaries that more impressions of it were sold or given while he was in the Netherlands than any other print at the time.
The sale will also include a group of Old Master prints from The Collection of Dr. Michael Berolzheimer (1866-1942). The group of Old Master prints was formed between 1900 and 1937 and were once part of an extensive collection of over 600 works. The fine and varied selection of prints spanning lots 26 to 64 includes works by artists such as Martin Schongauer and Lucas Cranach the Elder, as well as further prints by Albrecht Dürer. Parts of Dr Berolzheimers wider collection were confiscated by Gestapo in the 1930s, however the group of Old Master prints remained largely intact. This group represents a lifetimes pursuit that has been preserved for over a century.