Female artists having been given a much-deserved dose of recognition in recent years, with major galleries celebrating a whole host of overlooked artists, and it is female artists that have provided many of the top lots in Tennants Auctioneers’ Modern and Contemporary Art Sale on 19th June. Highlights include Mary Fedden’s ‘Redcliffe Road’ from 1946 (estimate: £6,000-8,000 plus buyer’s premium). The painting depicts a still life of a jug of flowers and pottery zebra sitting on a windowsill and was previously exhibited at the Royal West of England Academy.
The floral theme continues with two still lifes by Dorothea Sharp, known for her naturalistic studies of children and landscapes. Her ‘Still life of Summer flowers in a white glazed jug’ and ‘Dahlias in a vase’ are both offered with an estimate of £5,000-8,000 apiece, and a limited-edition lithograph by Dame Elizabeth Blackadder of ‘Arum Lilies’ is offered with an estimate of £500-700.
Also of interest is ‘Man Thinning Turnips’ by the much-loved Cumbrian artist Sheila Fell (estimate: £2,500-4,000). The subject matter, very characteristic of the artist, depicts two figures toiling in an open landscape. The figures’ stance and earthy tones cause them to become part of the landscape itself. Fell had an almost unique ability to convey the emotion inherent in a landscape; not just the landscape itself, but the impact it has on you.
The top lot of the sale, however, is Bob Dylan’s ‘The Drawn Blank Series’ of prints made in 2014. The set of eight giclee prints are offered with an estimate of £7,000-10,000. Bob Dylan, who has just celebrated his 80th birthday, made his first foray into art publishing with his ‘Drawn Blank Series’ in 2008, in which he reimagined sketches he made whilst touring America, Europe and Asia between 1989 and 1992.
Northern Art is well represented with three paintings by Leeds artist Joash Woodrow. Woodrow was reclusive and painted just for himself. His work, which comprised some 700 paintings and 3,000 drawings was discovered by his brother following a fire at the artist’s house. Indeed, it is a portrait of his brother, Saul Woodrow, which leads the trio of paintings with an estimate of £5,000-7,000. The portrait is joined by ‘White Buildings, Black Chimney’ (estimate: £4,000-6,000) and ‘Four Figures in Historical Costume’ (estimate: £2,000-3,000). Also on offer in the sale are two works by Pennine artist Peter Brook, ‘Bolton Bridge’ (estimate: £2,000-3,000) and ‘Last of the Snow’ (estimate: £1,200-1,800), and Geoffrey Woolsey Birks’ ‘Chimney Forrest’ (estimate: £2,000-3,000).
A small collection of framed textiles in the sale, designed by the likes of Pablo Picasso, Marc Chagall and Joan Miro, are the result of an extraordinary collaboration between artists and textile designers that flourished from the 1940s to 1960s. The textile industry needed a much-needed boost in Post-War Britain, and large-scale modern housing developments created a need for bright, modern, affordable textiles. The answer was for leading artists of the era to create designs for textile manufacturers, which also served as a way of creating cutting edge art for the masses. Highlights of the collection include Pablo Picasso’s ‘Harlequin’, designed in 1963 for Bloomcraft, Marc Chagall’s ‘Les Amoureaux’, designed in 1955 for Fuller Fabrics, and John Piper’s ‘Northern Cathedral’, designed in 1960 for Arthur Sanderson & Sons Ltd. Estimates for the 12-lot strong collection start at £100-200.