Paint. Print. Sculpt. | Our Top Picks

Paint. Print. Sculpt. | Our Top Picks

The latest member to join our Picture department, Marianne, shares her favourite lots in our upcoming 27 January - 5 February  Paint. Print. Sculpt. Sale.

27 January 2023

Having recently joined the Picture department at Sworders, it has been a joy to see the diversity of artworks coming up for sale in our January Paint. Print. Sculpt. Auction, and to learn about the artists who created them.  

My favourite painting in the sale is Jean Cooke’s ‘Neriads II- Sand and Sea’. The title of the work references the sea-nymph daughters of the Greek god of the sea Nereus and Cooke’s confident and expressive brushstrokes, and thick, textural application of paint give the work a sense of freedom and immediacy, capturing the movement of the waves as they break and froth against the sand. Lively and joyful, I am drawn to the painting because it evokes childhood memories of many carefree summer holidays spent at the seaside jumping over waves and splashing in the sea.   

The work is relatively small in scale, a perfect size for many modern interiors, and whilst the eye is drawn into the piece, there is also a strong sense of the light and bright coastal landscape extending beyond the confines of the canvas edge. It is easy to become immersed in the piece, and almost possible to hear the crashing waves and feel the salty sea breeze from the high cliff top viewpoint as you look down on the small figures below. It is possible the painting was inspired by the vista from Cooke’s cliff top cottage at Birling Gap in Sussex, which she rented from the National Trust, and where she spent many of her later years.

Jean Cooke RA (1927-2008) 'Neriads II - Sand and Sea'

Jean Cooke RA (1927-2008) 'Neriads II - Sand and Sea'

Jean Cooke was born in 1927 and studied art at Goldsmiths’ College and the Royal College of Art in London. In 1953 she married the post-war painter John Bratby, and they were often the subject of one another’s work. During the early years of her marriage, Cooke often signed her work ‘Jean Bratby’, however, it is said that as her work gained more recognition Bratby demanded she sign her works with her maiden name, jealous of her success.

Cooke went on to become one of the leading female painters of the twentieth century known for her candid and humorous self-portraits, colourful still-lifes and landscapes. Throughout her career she exhibited regularly at the Royal Academy and was elected as a Royal Academician in 1972. Her work is held in the National Gallery, Tate and the Royal Academy collections. ‘Neriads II- Sand and Sea’ was exhibited in the Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition in 1990 and it is remarkable to think that buying at auction makes it so affordable to hang a painting by such an accomplished artist on your living room wall!

My eye has also been caught by several limited-edition prints by The Connor Brothers-statement pieces that would sit well in any contemporary interior and that are bound to be a good talking point.

Rising to fame in 2012 the Connor Brothers were purportedly American born twins brought up in a cult and isolated from the outside world, however in 2014 this was revealed to be a myth fabricated by contemporary London based artists Mike Snelle and James Golding. Working under the pseudonym of the Connor Brothers the pair have blurred the boundaries between truth and fabrication, a theme that they explore within their work.  

Created from original large-scale oil and acrylic paintings, prints by the Connor Brothers are often reminiscent of Penguin book covers and romantic 1950s paperbacks by Mills & Boon. Frequently juxtaposing glamourous portraits of women, blocks of solid colour and ironic text, their work has an immediately recognisable retro aesthetic exemplified by the print ‘I Can Resist Everything Except Temptation’.

The Connor Brothers (b.1968) 'I drink to make other people more interesting'

The Connor Brothers (b.1968) 'I drink to make other people more interesting'

Out of the several Connor Brother prints we have coming up for sale this is my favourite, oozing sophisticated glamour, dark humour and quirky cynicism. Carefully considered, the highly saturated red background behind the text and sultry red lips of the subject of the piece link the graphic with the painterly, also creating a narrative between the old and the new. 

The Connor Brothers intelligent use of text is playful but at the same time unsettling, challenging us to question our assumptions and preconceptions. The print ‘I Drink to Make Other People More Interesting’ may at first be interpreted as light-hearted but the statement is also a thought-provoking comment on modern society, giving the print an edgy feel with contemporary resonance.

With sell out shows at galleries in LA, New York, Sydney, Dubai, London, Hong Kong and Berlin and work in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Connor Brothers work is admired by many and I have also recently spotted their prints adorning the walls of the contestants’ house in the current series of The Apprentice!

With the original paintings selling for thousands of pounds, signed limited edition prints are the next best thing and a great way to own an original piece of Connor Brothers artwork without the hefty price tag. 

To find out more about our 27 January - 5 February Paint. Print. Sculpt. Sale, please contact Amy Scanlon 

Or browse the full sale here.




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