With our 'Paint. Print. Sculpt.' Sale open for bidding, our team of Modern & Contemporary Art specialists share their top lots.
23 November 2023
Amy Scanlon, Head of Modern & Contemporary Art
My favourite lot in the sale is a stunning portrait by Harold Speed. The ‘Lady in Green’ caught my eye as soon as I saw the work with her dazzling emerald dress painted with an elaborate belt and vibrant red beads. Teamed with a blue and black background, the colours really appeal to me alongside her stylish dress sense, really evoking the spirit of the early 20th century. Sadly, we do not know who the lady is, but the artist has managed to capture her with a serene but thoughtful expression.
This work forms part of the second collection of works by Harold Speed that Sworders have offered for sale this autumn. In this auction we showcase his diverse skills with this highly finished oil portrait alongside life drawing sketches, rich landscapes and a watercolour of a still life.
Harold Speed (1872-1957) 'Lady in Green' signed and dated 'HAROLD SPEED 1919' l.l., oil on canvas 78 x 64cm (£600-800)
Marianne Richardson, Picture Department Cataloguer
The work that has caught my eye in this sale is a charming still-life by the artist Margaret Thomas. Known for her traditional subject matter, Thomas won a scholarship to the Slade School of Fine Art in 1936 and later went on to study at the Royal Academy Schools where she began to develop the subtle and understated style of painting for which she is now recognised. What I particularly like about the work we are offering for sale, ‘Still life of a vase of spring flowers’, is its small scale and unpretentious composition. It is easy to imagine that the flowers informally spilling over the edge of the vase have just been lovingly picked from a quintessentially English cottage garden, whilst the warm tones and small pops of colour are a welcome reminder of spring as the cold winter nights draw in.
Still life of vase of spring flowers signed with monogram l.l., inscribed 'For dear MARY with MARGARET'S love- Christmas 1992' on an artist's letterhead card affixed verso, oil on board 25.5 x 20.5cm (£400-600)
Amelia Hone, Picture Department Cataloguer
We have a fantastic array of different prints in this auction. As a fairly new art collector purchasing prints at auction offers the opportunity to acquire works from renowned artists or rare pieces that may not be readily available in traditional galleries or markets. It provides an opportunity for individuals to build and diversify their art collections, with a chance to discover emerging talents or explore different artistic movements. participating in art auctions can also be an exhilarating experience, combining the thrill of competition with the prospect of securing a unique and meaningful piece for one's collection.
One of my favourite prints in this sale is the Nick Walker ‘Mona Simpson’ screenprint. Walkers art typically blends humour, social commentary and his distinctive aesthetic. I just think this print is quite fun and we need a bit of light-hearted fun at the moment!
Nick Walker (b.1969) 'Mona Simpson' screenprint in colours, signed with monogram in pencil l.r., and numbered '643/750', with POW blind stamp sheet 70 x 49.5cm (£500-800)
Zimeng Li, Picture Department Assistant
It is not an easy task to pick just one picture among all the various lots we have for the last picture sale of this year. The rich categories of modern and contemporary art grant the flexibility and unlimited possibilities to enjoy it.
One of my favourite lots in this sale is lot 176 by Alexandre Louis Jacob (French, 1876-1972) 'Soleil D'Hiver'. Needless to seek sophisticated meanings beyond the image, I am deeply touched by the sweet calmness and surprised, at the same time, how strong my feelings can be evoked by such a simple landscape.
French artist, Alexandre Louis Jacob (French, 1876-1972) is best known for his atmospheric and luminous landscapes. His masterful evocation of light, atmosphere, colour and sense of place truly are remarkable. And his love for nature and his ability to transfer it onto the canvas easily transport me back to the snowy little town I grew up in, which is nowhere near this tranquil French village, but in far east China. This is the magic of landscape paintings: they witness the artists’ skills, they capture a special space at a selected time, and they always convey personalized feelings.
Alexandre Louis Jacob (French, 1876-1972) 'Soleil d'Hiver' oil on board 45 x 61cm (£1,000-1,500)
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