Friday, October 8, 2010

Unseen Works by Major British Artists to be Sold at Fund Raising Auction

Richard Bawden 'A Splash in the Pant'.

During the last decade of his life, Edward Bawden CBE (1903-1989) carefully put together an archive of some three thousand items which he donated to the Cecil Higgins Art Gallery, Bedford. Now Bawden's friend and Executor Peyton Skipwith has instigated and curated a unique sale to be held at Bloomsbury Auctions in central London (28th October 2010), to raise funds for equipping the Edward Bawden Gallery in the new redevelopment of the Art Gallery and Museum.

The sale offers a unique opportunity to buy wonderful, quintessentially English pieces, most of which have never been on the market before. The items offered include drawings, watercolours, prints and illustrated books by Bawden, his associates and friends such as Eric Ravilious, Douglas Percy Bliss and Charles Mahoney - as well as many younger admirers from Peter Blake and David Gentleman to Bernard Dunstan and Michael Foreman. The sale will be held at Bloomsbury Auctions, 24 Maddox Street, London W1S 1PP on Thursday 28th October 2010. A taster exhibition, showing a sample of the works will be held in Bedford Museum from 12th-17th October.

‘As Bawden’s Executor I felt that helping the Cecil Higgins Art Gallery to raise the funds was probably one of the last concrete acts that I could do for his memory,’ says Peyton Skipwith. ‘By approaching many artists and dealers who admire his work and enrolling the help of Bloomsbury Auctions, we have been able to assemble the sixty works to be offered at auction. These range from original pieces by Bawden himself, including his initial design for the Bunyan Tapestry (est. £2500-3500), commissioned by the Cecil Higgins Art Gallery in the early 1970s, to works specially created for the sale.’ The former curator of the Cecil Higgins Art Gallery, Lady Halina Graham, has  very kindly donated 'Campions and Columbine’ by Bawden, who had given and inscribed the lithograph to her.

Amongst the many highlights are drawings by Charles Mahoney and a wood-engraving by Eric Ravilious (est. £300-400), both contemporaries of Bawden’s at the Royal College of Art in the early 1920s, as well as an illustrated letter from Bawden to another fellow-student, Douglas Percy Bliss, written in Florence in 1926 while on a travelling scholarship (est. £300-400). Ronald Maddox and Chris Brown (pictured left) have both given images of Bawden’s home, Brick House, Great Bardfield, Essex (est. £100-150 and £80-120 respectively), while Bawden’s son, Richard, has donated a lino-cut entitled A Splash in the Pant, recalling an amusing incident when the local policeman surprised Bawden and his wife and the Raviliouses, bathing naked in the River Pant that ran close to the bottom of their garden(est. £350-500). Another highlight to whet the appetite, is Tourist Attraction (est. £2000-2500) a tiny gem of a collage(pictured right) by one of Bawden’s star students Peter Blake, who remarked of this work,‘It’s more than a print but less than a watercolour.'

Book illustrators and print-makers have also responded generously and thoughtfully to the request for work. Angie Lewin has donated a lithograph depicting Eric Ravilious’s 1953 Coronation Mug (est. £350-500) and Michael Foreman, Helen Oxenbury and John Burningham (each estimated £80-120) have given copies of their books specially embellished with extra drawings on the title page, making them unique collectors’ pieces. Former students of Bawden’s have been more than happy to contribute to this fund-raising auction for the Bawden Gallery; David Gentleman has given a beautiful Suffolk watercolour landscape (est. £2000-2500) and Chris Brown a range of lino-cuts, including E is for Edward which incorporates a delightful image of Bawden himself (est. £150-200).

Edward Bawden was an award winning painter, printmaker, draughtsman and graphic designer. His unique vision of the world spanned over 60 years, during which he produced some of the most influential designs of the 20th century. The sale at Bloomsbury Auctions is a tribute by the art world - artists, dealers and auctioneers - to the memory of one of Britain’s much-loved artists, and to the perpetuating of his memory; it will ensure that the Edward Bawden Gallery will provide a fitting and lasting home for a major body of work by one of Britain’s most original artists.

For further information and illustrations please contact:

Vanessa Clewes Salmon Tel: 020 8458 3288 email:

or Richard Caton Tel: 020 7495 9494 Ext 207 email:

Bloomsbury Auctions 24 Maddox Street London W1S 1PP Tel: 0207 495 9494

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