News & Insights

A Yorkshire View: A Single Owner Sale

3rd February 2021.

A Private Collection of paintings principally of Yorkshire and the North are coming up for auction in Tennants Auctioneers’ single owner sale ‘A Yorkshire View on 6th March.

The paintings in this sale are just a part of the collection built up over nearly fifty years from the 1920s to the 1960s by Mr George G Hopkinson a proud Yorkshireman and textile businessman who was a director of a West Riding textile company, Hopkinson and Shore and of Novello’s, a Bradford fashion house.

Highlights of the collection include a selection of works by Bradford-born Frederick Cecil Jones (1891-1966), who is known for his closely observed and detailed paintings of Northern towns, such as his view of Scarborough, painted in 1950 (estimate: £2,000-3,000 plus buyer’s premium).  On offer, too, are works by Fred Lawson – the much-loved Wensleydale artist – which include two depictions of Leyburn, the home of Tennants Auctioneers. Lawson’s ‘Leyburn Market Place’ is on offer with an estimate of £500-800.  The collection also includes works by Lawson’s wife Muriel Metcalfe and his daughter Sonia Lawson, and his friends and contemporaries Philip Naviasky and Jacob Kramer. Also represented are the likes of Sir Leslie Matthew Ward, Edward Hill Lacy, Cuthbert Crossley, Cecil Arthur Hunt and Joseph Appleyard.

George Hopkinson was no ordinary businessmen. He had strong Liberal beliefs and was very passionate about art and culture in Bradford and the West Riding of Yorkshire, and publicly called for the establishment of a university in Bradford.

George loved paintings and spending time with local artists in Yorkshire. He was a de facto patron as well as a friend to many of the Yorkshire-based artists whose paintings he collected and whose work he championed, such as Fred Lawson, Philip Naviasky, Fred Cecil Jones and Jacob Kramer. He was himself also an amateur painter.

From 1929 to 1934 he edited a magazine in the parish of Heaton, Bradford called The Heaton Review, a “Northern Miscellany of Art and Literature”.  Not content to limit its articles to local matters, George invited and received contributions from the great and the good of British society including John Galsworthy, J B Priestley, George Bernard Shaw, Kenneth Grahame, Hugh Walpole, the poet and art scholar Laurence Binyon, and music from the composer Gustav Holst amongst many others.

He also met Mahatma Gandhi during Gandhi’s tour of the north of England in 1931, and he asked Gandhi to sign a recently completed drawing of himself by the Leeds artist Jacob Kramer. A lithograph of the signed drawing is held in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery.  George later invited Gandhi to contribute to The Heaton Review, but by this time Gandhi was back in India and had been imprisoned in Poona (now Pune) so wrote a letter in reply from jail regretting that he was not permitted correspondence with newspapers and reviews.

As editor, George Hopkinson included illustrations and copies of paintings from his collection in The Heaton Review, including many by his friends such as Lawson, Naviasky, Jones and Kramer, some of whose paintings are included in this sale.

George Hopkinson was also President of The Bradford Textile Society between 1945 and 1947, and for many years was the editor of its annual publication, The Journal.  As with The Heaton Review, George broadened The Journal’s remit, inviting contributions from notable public figures such as the Archbishop of York (who wrote of “The World in the Atomic Age” soon after the dropping of the atomic bombs in Japan in 1945). Again, George included illustrations by Fred Lawson, Fred Jones, Janet Rawlins, T S Evans, Cecil Hunt, Angus Rands and many others, often from his own collection in The Journal.

In June 1963, as President of the Bradford Arts Club, he hosted an exhibition entitled “The Collection of a Wanderlust in Art” which included 140 paintings and drawings from his private collection, which at that time contained three works by a little known but up-and-coming Bradford artist called David Hockney.

As well as the hundreds of paintings, he also collected furniture, sometimes keeping the items at his mill before bringing them home when he hoped his first wife Emily would not notice.

On his death in 1969 his collection was divided between his second wife, Joan, and the families of his two sons John and Gary. His son Gary died in 2020, and the paintings in this sale are a part of his bequest from a remarkable man.

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