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Preview: Modern & Contemporary Art Sale 2nd March

7th February 2024.

A small family collection of drawings by the great L.S. Lowry (1887-1976) are coming to auction on 2nd March in the Modern and Contemporary Art Sale at Tennants Auctioneers, North Yorkshire. The three works were given by Lowry to Ruth and Neville Blakey of Pendle, Lancashire, longstanding friends of the artist. Mr Blakey first met L.S. Lowry in the late 1950s, when the artist took a clock for repair in the Blakey’s business premises and the pair struck up a lasting friendship.

The collection comprises Figures Young and Old, a pencil sketch made in 1969 (estimate: £40,000-60,000 all figures exclude buyer’s premium), “Group of Children”, a further pencil sketch from 1966 and inscribed verso “To Mr and Mrs Neville Blakey” (estimate: £12,000-18,000), and Street Scene with Dogs, a biro sketch from 1963 executed on a page in Mr Blakey’s autograph book (estimate: £4,000-6,000). The autograph book is accompanied by a ledger in which Mr Blakey recounts the pair’s first meetings and notes that “This delightful sketch was drawn in the drawing room He visited us here … and we made return visits on many occasions to his house at Mottram in Longdendale. He was a most kind person…”.

Northern Art continues to demand attention at auction, and notable lots on offer in the sale include “Salford Buildings, Broad Street” by Harold Riley (1934-2023)(estimate: £5,000-8,000), “Procession” by Peter Brook (1927-2009) (estimate: £4,000-6,000), ‘Figures & Dogs in a Winter Landscape’ by Brian ‘Braaq’ Shields (1951-1997) (estimate: £7,000-10,000) and “The Shore South Gare” by Len Tabner (b.1946) (estimate: 2,500-4,000). Further Northern artists represented in the sale include Geoffrey Birks, Norman Cornish, Jake Attree, David Blackburn and Marie Walker Last.

Further highlights of the sale include “La Logie” (1929) by Scottish artist Sir William MacTaggart (1903-1981) (estimate: £5,000-7,000). The painting, which was once in the Collection of Donald McKay, has previously been on loan to Kirkcaldy Art Gallery & Museum and was exhibited at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. ‘Harbour Scene’ by Cheong Soo Pieng (1917-1983) will be offered with an estimate of £3,000-5,000. The Chinese-born Singaporean artist was the pioneer of the Nanyang style of art, which emerged from the Nanyang Academy of Art in Singapore where Cheong Soo Pieng taught for over 20 years, characterised by graphic outlines and a muted palette. The present painting, which was executed in 1953, was purchased by the vendor’s parents whilst on honeymoon in Bali in 1954. Also on offer is “Road Through Sneyd” by Staffordshire artist Maurice A Wade (1917-1991) (estimate: £2,000-3,000). Wade is known for his depictions of industrial landscapes around his home in Stoke-on-Trent, which are filled with a quiet, melancholy beauty.

An interesting selection of works on paper are also on offer, such as two ink and wash pictures by David Bomberg (1890-1957). With provenance by repute from the collection of actor B. Davies-Rees, the artist’s stepson-in-law, “Sappers at Work, Under Hill 60” and “Players Resting, The Ghetto Theatre” are offered with an estimate of £1,000-1,500 each. Other good lots include “Study for ‘The Fount’” by Frank Dobson (1886-1962) (estimate: £1,000-1,500), “The Cossack Act” by Dame Laura Knight (1877-1970) (estimate: £800-1,200), and “Hilly Landscape” by Sir Matthew Smith (1879-1959) (estimate: £800-1,200), and further works by the likes of Roger Hilton and Quentin Blake.

Leading a strong section of prints are two works by Pablo Picasso (1881-1973); “Combat de gladiateurs, avec spectateurs, et en bas, rappel de l’Ecce Homo” of 1970 is offered with an estimate of £4,000-6,000, and “Homme rembranesque assis chez filles” of 1968 with an estimate of £2,000-3,000. Prints by Joan Miro, Elizabeth Blackadder, Bob Dylan and Victor Pasmore will also be on offer, alongside a good range affordable contemporary works by the likes of Peter Blake, Damien Hirst, Tracy Emin, Grayson Perry and Vivienne Westwood.


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