Last night the first session of Sothebys sale of the greatest collection of 20th-Century British art ever to come to the market, The Evill/Frost Collection, fetched a total of £37,464,300, doubling the pre-sale high estimate
Last night the first session of Sotheby’s Single-Owner Sale of the greatest collection of 20th-Century British art ever to come to the market, The Evill/Frost Collection, fetched a total of £37,464,300 /$61,224,159*, doubling the pre-sale high estimate of £16 million. In a full and extremely lively sale room, where intense bidding battles ensued over works that have remained in the same collection for over two generations, every single one of the 30 lots offered sold – achieving a ‘white-glove’ sale.
The top lot of the evening, with no fewer than five bidders vying for the painting, was Stanley Spencer’s Sunflower and Dog Worship (pictured), which sold for £5,417,250 / $8,852,870 (pre-sale estimate: £1-1.5 million**), achieving a new record for the artist at auction. With many of the works selling for multiples of their pre-sale estimate, the sale saw a total of eight records set for artists at auction, in addition to the highest price for a work on paper by Lucian Freud.
The sale was 100% sold by lot and 100% sold by value, with 90% of works selling above their pre-sale high estimate. The sale will continue tomorrow with parts II and III of the collection.
Henry Wyndham, Chairman Sotheby’s Europe and auctioneer for tonight’s sale, comments: “Never before, and never again, will a collection of 20th-Century British Art of the outstanding quality of The Evill/Frost Collection ever come to the market, and this has clearly been reflected in tonight’s fantastic sale results. The anticipation in the saleroom prior to the auction was palpable, and the enthusiasm with which bidders participated confirms the quality of the works offered and Wilfrid Evill’s remarkable eye. The Evill/Frost sale has proven to be a truly historic auction.”
Auction record for a work by Stanley Spencer RA Sunflower and Dog Worship ranks as one the most important works by Stanley Spencer. James Rawlin, Sotheby’s Senior Director, Senior Specialist, 20th-Century British Art Department, said: “An undoubted highlight of tonight’s sale was the appearance of such an exceptional group of works by Stanley Spencer, one of the most important British artists of the twentieth century. A series of new benchmarks have been set at auction for the artist recently, demonstrating both the strength of the market in this field and a particular appreciation for the artist’s work.
“It is fitting that tonight’s group of seven of the very finest works by Spencer ever to come to the market by far exceeded the previous record for a painting by the artist in addition to establishing a new record for the artist twice in the same night, first with Workmen in the House, and then with Sunflower and Dog Worship fetching an even higher price.”
An important painting of 1937, Sir Hugh Walpole purchased Sunflower and Dog Worship within just two hours of its exhibition in December 1937. Disappointed at having missed it, Wilfrid Evill was able to buy it from Walpole some seven years later for £100. The painting sold tonight for £5,417,250 / $8,852,870 (pre-sale estimate £1 – 1.5 million). Prior to this, Workman in the House had set a record for the artist, selling for £4,745,250 / $7,754,680 (more than double its pre-sale estimate £1.5 – 2 million). The seven works appearing in tonight’s sale raised a combined total of £23,016,750 / $37,613,974. A further 11 works by the artist will appear in the Evill/Frost Day Sale tomorrow.
Auction record for a work on paper Lucian Freud
The sale offered two stunning early examples of Lucian Freud’s exceptional ability as a draughtsman: Boat on a Beach, a 1945 work that records a trip Freud made to the Scilly Isles, sold for £2,617,250 / $4,277,110 / $4,277,110, significantly above the pre-sale estimate of £400,000-600,000, the highest price at auction for a work by the artist on paper.
Frances Christie, Sotheby’s Director, 20th-Century British Art Department, said: “It is testament to Wilfrid Evill’s exceptional eye that he bought these works by Freud so early in the artist’s career – years before the artist achieved fame.” Earlier in the evening the same artist’s Boy on a Sofa, drawn in 1944, was the subject of intense interest when it was competed for by nine bidders and sold for £1,497,250 /$2,446,806 far above the pre-sale estimate of £400,000-600,000.
Auction record for a work by Edward Burra
Edward Burra’s Zoot Suits – a rigorously urban image of life on the London streets depicting a group of men newly arrived from Jamaica in 1948 – attracted wide pre-sale interest and sold for £2,057,250, many multiples of its £250,000-350,000 pre-sale estimates. It was competed for by four bidders and set a record for the artist at auction. It broke a record set for the artist earlier in the evening when his The Common Stair, from 1929, sold for £881,250, far in excess of its pre-sale estimates of £150,000-250,000.
Further Artist Records Achieved Tonight
Lot 10 GRAHAM SUTHERLAND THE CRUCIFIXION Estimate: £150,000-250,000 Sold for £713,250 Previous record: £481,250
Lot 11 WILLIAM ROBERTS DISCUSSION IN A CAFE Estimate: £50,000-70,000 Sold for £373,250 Previous record: $368,000 (£223,517)
Lot 12 DAVID JONES JULY CHANGE Estimate: £12,000-18,000 Sold for £32,450 Previous record: £23,750
Lot 14 LEON UNDERWOOD SUNGIRL Estimate: £15,000-25,000 Sold for £91,250 Previous record: £26,450
Lot 16 STANLEY SPENCER SUNFLOWER AND DOG WORSHIP Estimate: £1,000,000-1,500,000 Sold for £5,417,250 Previous record: £2,001,250
Lot 21 EDWARD BURRA ZOOT SUITS Estimate: £250,000-350,000 Sold for £2,057,250 Previous record: £490,000
Lot 26 JOHN SKEAPING POUTER-PIGEON Estimate: £10,000-15,000 Sold for £58,850 Previous record: $57,500 (£39,100)
Lot 27 PATRICK HERON THE BLUE TABLE WITH WINDOW: 1954 Estimate: £250,000-350,000 Sold for £1,049,250 Previous record: £668,450
Sale breakdown • Sold by lot: 100% • Sold by value: 100% • Of the 30 lots offered, 30 sold • 90% of the sold lots tonight achieved prices at or above their estimate • Average lot value: £1,248,810 / $2,040,805 • 11 works sold for over £1 million, 13 sold for over $1 million