David Hockney RA, 'Oh, for a gentle lover', signed ‘by David Hockney’ (on the reverse). Oil on canvas laid on board. Painted at the Royal College of Art in 1960. Estimate: £150,000-250,000. Our recent round up of new exhibitions and events reported on some inviting opportunities to purchase design and craft objects as Christmas gifts. This week sees some art sales take centre stage at Christie’s for those looking to invest in a special fine art gift for themselves or their loves ones.
Anyone with a taste for twentieth-century British art will be salivating over the sale of the collection amassed by the late legendary London restaurateur Peter Langan, responsible for the fine-dining institutions Odins in Marylebone and Langan's Brasserie, off Piccadilly around the corner from the RA. The culinary experience at both venues has always been complemented by a visual one: the walls of both are choc-a-bloc with wonderful artworks.
The brasserie in particular became the key eatery for the art world during the 1980s and the collection includes pieces by Academicians such as David Hockney, Patrick Procktor and RB Kitaj. Artists would donate works to Langan in exchange for meals, in the kind of noble exchange that one hopes still continues in contemporary art. Kitaj’s charcoal and pastel on paper Thus to revisit (1974) (estimate £15,000-25,000) is dedicated to ‘Peter with love’ and pieces for sale include Hockney’s portraits of Langan (one of which has an estimate of £100,000–150,000) and interiors and still lifes set in Odins.
Patrick Caulfield RA, 'Interior with Fondue Pan', signed, inscribed and dated 'INTERIOR WITH FONDUE PAN PATRICK CAULFIELD 1971' (on the stretcher), signed and dated again 'Patrick Caulfield 1971' (on the canvas overlap). Oil on canvas. 108 x 84 in. (274.3 x 213.4 cm.). Estimate 350,000 - 450,000 British pounds. These works, together with outstanding pieces by Frank Brangwyn RA, Christopher Wood and Harold Gilman, form a small selection of Langan’s collection on offer on Wednesday evening’s sale, as part of a high quality Modern British sale at Christie’s on King Street. The auction also features post-war works from other collections by artists such as Patrick Heron (the semi-figurative canvas Crambe Vicarage, York, 1949, has an estimate of £250,000–300,000), Joe Tilson RA (Pop relief Gagarin, Star, Triangle, 1968, estimate £80,000–120,000) and Patrick Caulfield RA (two-tone Interior with Fondue Pan, 1971, estimate £350,000-450,000), as well as a large selection of pre-war works by painters including William Roberts RA, Walter Sickert and Roger Fry, the latter represented by a beautiful panelled screen, painted with a landscape of a Provençal valley (estimate £40,000-60,000).
The rest of Langan’s acquisitions – 220 works – are on sale on Tuesday from 1pm at Christie’s South Kensington house. Although the zeros on its estimates are far to many for me, I’m still going to have a look over the weekend or on Monday, when the works are presented for public view.
I might also visit Victoria Miro in North London; the commercial gallery is having an art book and print sale in aid of Little Sparta, a landscaped garden in Edinburgh by artist Ian Hamilton Finlay – a well-loved artwork in itself that is kept in shape thanks to volunteers and charitable donations. Prints start from £100 and new editions by painters Chris Ofili and Chantal Joffe are among those available. The opening night is this Wednesday and includes a book signing with Grayson Perry RA.