Sworders are pleased to present a single owner collection of drawings and paintings by Harold Speed (1872-1957). The fifteen lots we have on offer, were removed from 23 Campden Hill Square, London, a west London house with a long and distinguished literary history.
27 September 2023
The house bears a blue plaque recording it as home to the distinguished war poet and novelist Siegfried Sassoon between 1925 and 1932. Sassoon wrote two of his most famous works here, `Memoirs of a Fox Hunting Man` and `Memoirs of an Infantry Officer`.
Before this the house was home to the Llewelyn Davies family whose children J M Barrie befriended and who were the inspiration for the Darling Children and the Lost Boys in ‘Peter Pan’.
23 Campden Hill Square, London. Spudgun67, CC BY-SA 4.0
Barrie eventually became the children’s legal guardian and supported them until adulthood. The window at the top of the house, overlooking the square, inspired the fairy Tinkerbell’s entrance into the children’s bedroom.
In the 1920s the house was acquired by successful artist Harold Speed, known for his portraits of eminent society figures, romantic landscapes and mythical subjects. He built an impressive studio to the rear of the house where many of his best works were produced. We can see a sample of these in our 17 October Modern & Contemporary Art sale – lots 82-96.
Most recently 23 Campden Hill Square was home to the late Charles Wilson - formerly editor of The Times.
Harold Speed (1872–1957)
Harold Speed (1972-1957) An elderly man seated holding a pipe and gun, signed and dated 'HAROLD SPEED. 1940' u.c., oil on canvas, 101 x 76.5cm (£600-800)
Harold Speed was an accomplished painter who is best known for his society portraits, decorative landscapes and mythological scenes.
He was born in London on 11 February 1872, the son of architect Edward Speed. Initially, Harold chose to follow in his footsteps and studied architecture at the Royal College of Art. This was not to be his passion, and by 1887 he had specialized in fine art; going on to win a gold medal for his competent life studies. Following his further education at the Royal Academy Schools, Speed was offered a travelling scholarship which allowed him the opportunity to visit Italy, Spain France and Belgium. The influence of his travels remained with him and his work can be seen to show a classical European style.
Harold Speed (1972-1957) Standing female nude, red chalk, 52 x 33cm (£250-350)
Harold Speed exhibited at the Royal Academy for half a century and was an elected Member of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters. Alongside his creative output, he was wrote instructional books on art, some of which remain in print to this day.
Alongside his address in Campden Hill Square, he also lived in Watlington, Oxfordshire, where he died on 20th March 1957.
Harold Speed (1872-1957) A woman sitting by a fountain in a cottage garden, signed 'HAROLD SPEED' l.r., oil on canvas, 51 x 63cm (£600-800)
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