The collection was amassed by Evill and left to his Honour Frost, his orphaned ward, whose death has brought this wonderful hotchpotch of paintings, drawings, furniture and porcelain to market
by Alex Gushurst-Moore
The pleasure of single-owner collections coming onto the market is that you tend to get multiple pieces of work which have not been seen by the public for many years, if ever. This is not fare which appears on the block every decade or so.
The Evill/Frost Collection, being sold at Sotheby’s next week, promises many such works. In 1944, Wilfrid Evill’s acute eye picked out a small yet lovingly crafted image of a pale-faced boy for £18. Lucien Freud’s Boy on a Sofa (above) is now estimated at £400-600,000. (That’s what we at Spear’s call a bargain.)
The collection was amassed by Evill and left to his Honour Frost, his orphaned ward, whose death has brought this wonderful hotchpotch of paintings, drawings, furniture and porcelain to market. Evill represented, as a lawyer, many of the artists in the collection – Freud, Stanley Spencer, Graham Sutherland – but also bought Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth and Patrick Heron.
James Rawlin, Sotheby’s senior director of 20th century British art, says: ‘Here we have the most significant body of Stanley Spencer’s work to appear at auction in living memory,’ not to mention Freud’s ‘incredibly beautiful’ Boat on a Beach.
Rawlin emphasised that Evill’s stability of character was not present in Spencer’s more erratic mind: ‘They were two very different men,’ the ‘underlying disturbance’ of Spencer’s life seeming to give meaning to his work’s unbalanced compositions, while Evill’s calm demeanour is reflected in the balanced collection. Many of the other works are coloured with a haphazard touch like Spencer’s; Evill evidently appreciated a wilder aesthetic. (Left: Spencer's Workmen in the House.)
This, as Rawlin puts it, is ‘the trick of time in the collecting world’: collections often mirror the zeitgeist, and this is certainly a case in point. Therein lays the importance of the sale: it is quite unlike other collections which are currently on the market, because of the distinct tone which comes with being suspended in mid-20th-century Europe.
What Hedgehog really wants to know is if Sotheby’s will trade the Freud for a copy of the magazine (RRP: £25). £7 profit? Good investment.
Images courtesy Sotheby's