Summer Triptych by John Craxton (1922-2009) set a new world record at Bonhams Modern British & Irish Art Sale in London recently, selling for £343,300, over four times its pre-sale estimate.The figures of the boy, the girl and the goat in Summer Triptych were based on sketches Craxton made on the Greek island of Paros where he lived for many years. The girl with the scarf is Maria Mastropetros, who later inspired a solo for Margot Fonteyn in Frederick Ashton’s 1951 ballet Daphnis and Chloë at Covent Garden for which Craxton executed the designs. Believed to have been painted in 1958, Summer Triptych surpassed its pre-sale estimate of £80,00-£120,000. Penny Day, Bonhams Head of UK & Ireland, Modern British and Irish Art, said: “We are delighted to have set a world record for this artist. John Craxton was championed from an early age as one of the most promising talents of modern painting in Britain. He is perhaps best known for his portraits both of people and animals, beautifully illustrated in Summer Triptych, which is a very special work.”Other highlights of the 69-lot sale included:Bullfrog by Lynn Chadwick (1914-2003) sold for £254,400. Conceived in 1951, Bullfrog dates from the ‘Geometry of Fear’ period of British sculpture, the phrase, coined by the art critic Herbert Read, which refers to a group of sculptors, including Chadwick, whose combined works encapsulated the zeitgeist of 1950s’ Britain.Untitled, by Frank Bowling sold for £190,900, almost twice its pre-sale estimate. The work is an intriguing example of his famous ‘poured’ painting technique. Seen in public for the first time at Bonhams, since it was given by the artist to the present owner’s parents in the late 1970s, Untitled was estimated at £100,000-150,000.Spring Flowers in a Jug by Christopher Wood (1901- 1930) achieved £95,700, over twice its pre-sale estimate. Painted in 1928, Spring Flowers in a Jug, belongs to a time when Christopher Wood was working closely with both Ben and Winifred Nicholson. The three had become increasingly close friends and spent much time together in London with Wood exhibiting alongside Winifred at the Seven & Five exhibition at the Beaux Arts Gallery during February of that year.Tree, Sky & Ragwort (Giant Oak Series) by Ivor Hitchens (1893-1979) sold for £83,000 surpassing its pre-sale estimate. Tree, Sky & Ragwort was one of the very last works that Hitchens completed prior to his death in 1979, and his mastery of colour and form is plain to see. Filled with the speed and energy of a lifetime’s experiment and practice and distilled into the simplest of visual languages, the work celebrates the landscape of the artist’s beloved Sussex.Sculpture by William Turnbull (1922-2012) achieved £119,800. The work dates from 1956 and derives from a series of columnar figures, idols and totems which the artist began in 1955. These were inspired by archaeological and anthropological artefacts, as well as religious statues and pre-classical forms of art.
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