By Adrian Rathbone, Associate Director & Head of Fine Arts, Hansons Auctioneers, Bishton Hall, Staffordshire
An exceptionally rare set of prints from the 1950s have sold for a record £26,000 at an auction in Staffordshire.
The set of five monochrome prints were produced in a limited run of just 12 sets by celebrated German-British painter Frank Helmut Auerbach. Born in Berlin in 1931, Auerbach was sent to Britain in 1939 via the Kindertransport scheme in order to escape Nazi persecution.
After the war, he began studying at St Martin’s School of Art in London. From the mid-50s he began a career as an art teacher but his status in the art world took off when he had a major solo exhibition at The Hayward Gallery and then the Yale Centre for British Art in 1981 alongside heavyweight names such as Lucien Freud and Francis Bacon.
Further successful exhibitions and even a film followed. Pop mega star David Bowie owned a sculpture titled ‘Head of Gerda Boehm’ which was sold for £3.8 million after his death in 2016.
Auerbach is first and foremost a figurative artist and this set of five - originally six prints epitomise his talent for representing the human form in all manner of interesting postures. They were consigned as part of a collection of works belonging to the late Liverpool artist model June Furlong which was offered in Hansons' Christmas Country House Fine Art Auction held at Bishton Hall on 11 December. As expected, there was much pre-sale interest and after an intense bidding battle, the set was won by a delighted UK private buyer who bid £26,000. The anonymous buyer intends to keep them in a private collection.
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