Earlier this month the gouache on card work, created by Boty when a student at the Royal College of Art, sold for double its high estimate. The following image and details are all courtesy of Christie’s:
Produced in the first year of her studies at the RCA, this design already demonstrates Boty’s breadth of interests and talent for creative juxtapositions. The proportions and diptych arrangement seem made for church windows, but the content is far from ecclesiastical. Instead, the design features a dreamlike mix of architectural elements and a large letter ‘L’ framing figural elements including heads (painted frontally and in profile), and two lovers locked in an embrace. The assembly of disparate elements into a cohesive whole foreshadows Boty’s later Pop Art paintings and collages. It also reflects the influence of Charles Carey, who first taught Boty stained glass design at the Wimbledon Art School, and who encouraged students to use collage during the design process as a means of adding contemporary elements to an ancient artform.
Pauline Boty was a polymath who entered the Royal College of Art in 1958 to study stained glass design but became a leading light in the nascent Pop Art scene alongside contemporaries including Peter Blake and Derek Boshier. In this guise she produced paintings and collages which blended abstract elements with a profusion of imagery poached from pop culture, with surreal and often satirical results. She was also heavily involved with film and literature societies and agitated against some of the more egregious examples of contemporary architecture in London as a key organiser for the ‘Anti Uglies’.
The artist’s family.
Private collection, London.
Purchased by the present owner at the 2016 exhibition
PAULINE BOTY (1938-1966)
Designs for stained glass window
gouache on card
9 ¼ x 3 in. (23.5 x 7.6 cm.) each
Executed circa 1958
Exhibition catalogue, Pop Art Heroes Britain, London, Whitford Fine Art, 2016, pp. 26–27, no. 13, illustrated
London, Whitford Fine Art, Pop Art Heroes Britain, May – July 2016, no. 13