Quentin Blake sale draws in bidders

Quentin Blake at 90: A Birthday Auction in Support of the Quentin Blake Centre for Illustration at Bonhams raised £390,023. Each of the 139 lots found a buyer, making it a white glove sale. The online auction ran on bonhams.com from Friday 2 December – Friday 16 December, the day the illustrator turned 90.

Sir Quentin Blake (British, born 1932) Amazing Performing Dogs No.1 (unframed) (Executed in 2022)

Highlights from the sale included

  • Amazing Performing Dogs No 3. Sold for £10,838, against an estimate of £800-1,200
  • Amazing Performing Dogs No 1. Sold for £10,200 (estimate: £700-1,000)
  • Measuring a Dragon No 1. Sold for £8,288 (estimate: £1,000-1,500)
  • Jumping for Joy. Sold for £8,288 (estimate: £500-700)

Sir Quentin Blake (British, born 1932) Measuring a Dragon No.1 (unframed) (Executed in 2022)

Janet Hardie, Bonhams Senior Specialist in Modern British and Irish Art and head of the sale, said: “I am delighted at the result. Estimates for the works were set at a competitive level to encourage as many people as possible to participate. I am glad to say that this approach paid dividends. Every drawing found a new home and the ‘white glove sale’ raised a very impressive sum for an excellent cause.”

The proceeds of the sale go to benefit the Quentin Blake Centre for Illustration. Founded by Quentin Blake in 2002 as House of Illustration, the Quentin Blake Centre is the UK’s national centre for illustration. The proceeds raised in this sale will help in the restoration of a fascinating but forgotten 18th and 19th century heritage site, New River Head in Clerkenwell, London, to create a home for the organisation. The Quentin Blake Centre for Illustration will offer a dynamic, distinctive programme of exhibitions, and will also provide a home for the 40,000-work archive of the UK’s best-loved illustrator, Quentin Blake.

Lindsey Glen, Quentin Blake Centre for Illustration Director, said: “The campaign for a national centre for illustration came about through Quentin’s vision, tenacity and generosity. We are so grateful to him, and to Bonhams, for raising such an amazing sum of money towards the project, through an auction filled with the intriguing stories, eccentric characters and warm humour for which he is so beloved. Happy birthday Quentin!”