Capturing Complexity | The Intriguing Works of Prunella Clough

Capturing Complexity | The Intriguing Works of Prunella Clough

We are excited to present seventeen lots by the unique and innovative Prunella Clough. This fantastic collection has come from the estate of antique dealer Christopher Bangs (1951-2022). The pair had a working relationship that developed into a deep friendship and the majority of the works on offer have come directly from the artist.

21 March 2024

 

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They first crossed paths in 1972, when Prunella Clough was offered a solo exhibition at the New Art Centre in Sloane Street where Christopher Bangs was the gallery manager. Christopher accompanied Pru to Paris to visit her aunt, the designer Eileen Gray, and later went to art exhibitions in Paris with her.  

 He was a frequent visitor to her house in Moore Park Road, in which she lived until in 1983 she moved to Salisbury House, in Sherbrooke Road, Fulham. She bequeathed the house and studio to Christopher on her death. Pru and Christopher organised the purchase of the derelict stable next door to her house and studio and in 1996, it was transformed into Christopher’s private gallery for antiques. This was very practical as it meant that Christopher was on hand during the day if needed. Pru, typically, liked to experiment with his photocopier which could print A2 size works. She also loved seeing his medieval bronzes and maintained a lively interest in his work right up until her final illness. 

Clough has been described as an extraordinary person – an intellectual, a great artist, original, private, sociable, tactful, encouraging, well-connected, discreet, amusing and extremely hard-working although she was not keen on being analysed either personally or professionally. 

 

Prunella Clough (1919-1999) Figure and boats, c.1950 verso a farmyard sketch, pen and brown ink 11 x 13.5cm (£600-800)

Lot 167 - Prunella Clough (1919-1999) Figure and boats, c.1950 verso a farmyard sketch, pen and brown ink 11 x 13.5cm (£600-800)

 
It is not just her personality that was elusive, it can be difficult to contextualise her work, as she does not display a style that is easy to pin down to one movement. But from the collection on offer, we can see how she evolved as an artist.  
 
She was educated at the Chelsea School of Art in the late 30s, with tutors Ceri Richards, Henry Moore and Graham Sutherland. Following WWII, on Clough’s request, her mother purchased a home in Southwold in Suffolk. It was an important place for the artist to work from 1946-1951 and we see this influenced in her work in the period (Lot 167). 

 

Prunella Clough (1919-1999) Figures with horse and cart, c.1950s pen and brown ink and wash 12 x 12.5cm (£600-800)

Lot 168 - Prunella Clough (1919-1999) Figures with horse and cart, c.1950s pen and brown ink and wash 12 x 12.5cm (£600-800)


 
In the 1950s, we see realism in her sketches (Lot 168) and famously in her stunning paintings of factory workers and lorry drivers. Clough was fascinated by factories, and gained permission to sketch the machinery, products, and workers manufacturing a variety of goods. A watercolour of a printing press (Lot 169) shows her moving from realistic representation to abstraction. As with many artists of the 1960s, she was influenced by the American Abstract Expressionists. This was to take hold of her creative style and simplicity of form, and minimalism can be seen in much of her work to follow. 

 

Lot 174 - Prunella Clough (1919-1999) 'Tip Landscape', 1960 signed 'Clough' l.r., gouache over etching plate 8.5 x 12.5cm (£500-700)

Lot 174 - Prunella Clough (1919-1999) 'Tip Landscape', 1960 signed 'Clough' l.r., gouache over etching plate 8.5 x 12.5cm (£500-700)

 
The effects on the paints surface and mark marking was very important to Clough and her use of mixed media is highly skilled (Lot 174). She was not forthcoming with others about how she achieved these effects, guarding this closely as a chef might a special recipe.  
 
Through this collection we are able to view a spectrum of her work up until the late 1980s. Among the highlights is the large scale painting from 1976, called ‘Past Event’. Here we see oil and brick dust on canvas that was painted by Clough after she experienced a gust of wind blowing through a disused warehouse in the London Docklands. This signficant work exhibited by the London Arts Council, the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, and the Serpentine Gallery, London. 

View the full collection in our Modern & Contemporary Art Auction, taking place on Tuesday 9 April.  

 


Modern & Contemporary Art Logo
Tuesday 9 April | 10am

pictures@sworder.co.uk | 01279 817778

 

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