Published 12th April 2014
We are looking forward to the reaction to the paintings by Robert Lenkiewicz (1941-2002) in the Picture auction (within the Spring 2014 Fine Art Sale) on 29th April 2014, which includes a group of 13 consigned from a collector in Cornwall. The group will test the market and gauge the interest and demand for Lenkiewicz since the heady days of 2003–2008.
Robert Lenkiewicz died in 2002 and in 2003, 2004 and 2008 we conducted spectacular studio sales where, in a frenzy of interest and buying, just about every one of the 1,300 lots sold easily. But since 2008, the Lenkiewicz marked has cooled and is more selective and the result is that market values for pictures by Lenkiewicz have, in some cases, come down.
This collection comprises good variety in terms of period, subject, project and medium. For example, there are two early works.
The 1960s Hampstead portrait of Young Hasid (FS22/352) is loosely after a painting by Marc Chagall and is a connection to the artist's Jewish ancestry and experiences at his parent's hostel in London, which took-in immigrant and displaced Jews. The painting was previously part of the studio collection and was sold in 2008 for £4,200. This time, it is offered with an estimate of £4,000-£6,000.
In the 1980s, Lenkiewicz started a project on Local Education, which included A large painting called The Fight (FS22/353), which depicted a Saturday night scene on the Barbican (in Plymouth) with a group of Skinheads, local Fascists and young onlookers scuffling and barging to watch a punch-up. The painting was cut-up into fragments, some of which were sold in 2003, and this small canvas (which is part of the original) is inscribed on the reverse and shows a young man engaged in the adrenaline rush. It is estimated at £1,000-£1,500.
There are also two large paintings that were exhibited at the 1994 Birmingham Exhibition of The Painter with Women Project. Both of these are high quality examples of the artist tackling large scale canvases, where the theme of Relationship and the figures dominate the picture. Equivalent paintings of this quality have made high five figures sums. For example, Lisa Stokes Holding a Mirror (which sold in these rooms in 2010 for £40,000) and these two The Painter With Karen (FS22/354) and The Painter with Lisa (FS22/357), each with estimates of £20,000-£30,000, compare very well with that quality of painting.
Lenkiewicz landscapes are more unusual and indeed one of the most admired Lenkiewicz prints is called Silver Lake. In this sale, there are two landscape paintings. The first entitled Study of The Hut (FS22/356), estimate £3,000-£5,000, seems to hint at the presence (or non-presence) of a person. This is a constant theme for Lenkiewicz - as if someone has just walked away from the view. The other landscape is a version of Silver Lake called Estuary Study – 8am February (FS22/351) and depicts a misty and transparent view across water, estimate £6,000-£8,000.
Included among a small collection of paintings from South Devon is the Harold Harvey oil titled Off to Market (FS22/415). The painting was purchased in 1904 by the family of the present owner from an 'Art Exhibition' in Newlyn.
Harvey is an important name in the formation and development of the painting community in Cornwall, where he was educated before studying in Paris from 1894-1896 under his future mentor Norman Garstin. In 1896, Harvey studied further at the Academie Delecluse and the Academie Colarossi and, in 1897, he returned to Penzance where he worked with Norman Garstin.
He became a member of the Royal Cambrian Academy from 1909 and a member of the Newlyn Society of Artists from 1910-1935. In 1911, he married the artist Mary Bodinnar and they settled in Newlyn where in 1920, with his close friend and artist Ernest Proctor, he established the Harvey-Proctor School of Art.
Painted while he was in his 20s, the rural, local subject of this painting is typical of Harvey's early work, which depicted farm labourers and fisherman, and though the style and brushwork has impressionist influences, the palette and form is still realist and traditional in terms of the transition from Victorian painting. The theme of 'Off to Market' was one that Harvey would revisit and the young man depicted here crops up in other works, as too do the cow and calf! This is a tight little painting and a good example from the period prior to 1910 and it is estimated at £8,000-£12,000.
Among the portraits is an 18th century study of two young girls (FS22/373), which is just about life size and attributed to Arthur Devis. Devis seems to have had a rather up and down career. By 1745, he has trained under the Flemish master Peter Tillemans and had established a very successful portrait studio in Great Queen Street in London. By the 1760s, he had fallen out of fashion, with the flair and style of contemporaries like Sir Joshua Reynolds and Johann Zoffany much more in favour, and Devis resorted to picture restoration before retirement to Brighton on 1783. The charming portrait of the sisters is estimated at £5,000-£7,000.
On a much smaller scale is the miniature of a Russian officer (FS22/364), which dates to the early 19th century. The miniature is octagonal and the young officer is wearing the Star for the Order of St Vladimir and the Order of Saint Anne and is estimated at £3,000-£4,000.
Carl Wilhelm Holsoe was born in Lyngbye, near Arhus in Denmark. He studied at the Royal Academy in Copenhagen between 1882-1884, and subsequently at the Artists Studieskole under Peder Severin Kroyer. In 1886, he exhibited at Charlottenberg, an interior, a subject for which he was to become renowned. Holsoe's interior scenes, inspired by Vermeer, often sparsely furnished, are a feature of Danish painting in the latter part of the 19th Century and he became popular throughout Scandinavia and the rest of Europe, receiving an honourable mention at the Universal Exposition in Paris and a medal at the Munich Exhibition of 1891. The Holsoe interior (FS22/417) in this sale depicts a lady sewing by a window and has an estimate of £15,000-£20,000.
To round off this look at a few of the paintings coming up for sale on 29th April 2014 is the small group by the contemporary artist David Eustace. Eustace's work has become popular as greeting cards and prints and whose originals sell in a number of modern art galleries. Eustace was born in Birmingham in 1950 and trained at Sutton School of Art and Exeter College of Art, but insists that he is largely self-taught. His paintings reveal a social quirkiness combining odd characters and peculiar moments, like the one entitled A Sore Head (FS22/281), estimate £100-£200.
Viewing for the sale commences on Friday, 25th April 2014 and to find out more about the paintings or to order a catalogue, please call the auction rooms on (01392) 413100 or email Dan Goddard.