Rediscovered Canova masterpiece once situated outside Boty’s Kensington flat to be auctioned by Christie’s

Antonio Canova (1757-1822), Maddalena Giacente (Recumbent Magdalene), 1819-22. © Christie’s Images Ltd 2022

Antonio Canova’s Maddalena Giacente (Recumbent Magdalene), regarded as his lost masterpiece and completed shortly before his death, will be a star lot in the Old Masters Evening Sale on 7 July 2022 at Christie’s in London

At one stage the sculpture was located outside the front of the house in Addison Road owned by antique dealer Jon Manasseh which Boty shared with Celia Birtwell. Derek Boshier also rented a room as a studio there whilst Peter Blake stored his paintings. The sculpture even makes a brief appearance in Ken Russell’s 1962 documentary Pop Goes the Easel with an aerial shot of Blake seated on it whilst he, Boshier and Peter Phillips wait for Boty to respond to their ringing the bell to be let in.

Boty on the steps outside Addison Road [unknown photographer]

From the Christie’s website:

Having accidentally become an art world ‘sleeping beauty’ over the last 100 years – her authorship gradually forgotten and whereabouts unknown – this outstanding sculpture of Mary Magdalene in a state of ecstasy was commissioned by the Prime Minister of the day, Lord Liverpool (1812-1827). Recumbent Magdalene will be a star lot during Christie’s Summer edition of Classic Week in London.

Dr. Mario Guderzo, leading Canova scholar, former Director of the Museo Gypsotheca Antonio Canova and Museo Biblioteca Archivio di Bassano del Grappa commented: “It is a miracle that Antonio Canova’s exceptional, long lost masterpiece the Recumbent Magdalene has been found, 200 years after its completion. This work has been searched for by scholars for decades, so the discovery is of fundamental importance for the history of collecting and the history of art. It testifies to the intensive thought process of the work of the Italian sculptor who was a fundamental witness of his time: faithful to Pope Pius VII, sought after by Napoleon, beloved by the English sovereign George IV, esteemed by the world of European collecting and of critical importance for the restitution of works of art seized under Napoleon. The re-discovery of the Recumbent Magdalene brings to a conclusion a very particular story worthy of a novel, of a marble of significant historical value and great aesthetic beauty produced by Canova in the final years of his artistic activity.”

Details of work
Antonio Canova (Possagno 1757–1822 Venice)
Maddalena Giacente (Recumbent Magdalene), Marble, 1819–1822
75 x 176 x 84.5 cm (291⁄2 x 691⁄4 x 331⁄4 in.)
Estimate: GBP 5,000,000–8,000,000

Further information on the work and sale, including a short film with Christie’s European Sculpture specialist Donald Johnston and art critic Alastair Sooke on its remarkable rediscovery, is available here: [link]

Boty work sells for new record price in auction at Sotheby’s

WITH LOVE TO JEAN-PAUL BELMONDO [detail], oil on canvas, 1962

Yesterday evening in Sotheby’s British Art: The Jubilee Auction Pauline Boty’s 1962 painting With Love to Jean-Paul Belmondo sold for GBP 1,159,500 [GBP 950,000 plus Buyer’s Premium; Estimate GBP 500,000 – 800,000] achieving a new record price for one of her works.

This was previously held by her 1966 painting Bum, which sold at Christie’s on 22 November 2017 for GBP 632,750 [including Buyer’s Premium] with an estimate of GBP 200,000 – 300,000.

For more on yesterday’s sale and an extensive Catalogue Note on the work by Sue Tate [scroll right to the foot of the page] please see here: [link]

“Pauline Boty, Pop Artist and Woman” event on Monday in Sotheby’s Jubilee Arts Festival

The Jubilee Arts Festival takes place from 28 May–15 June at Sotheby’s London and is described as follows: “Within the Jubilee Season, Sotheby’s will open its doors for an Arts Festival celebrating the alchemy of British creativity and stirring its spirit in the next generation. With exhibitions and events spanning the visual, performing, and literary, we will gather figures advancing and reinterpreting Britain’s treasured cultural legacy. Beyond unique opportunities to view artworks and jewellery loaned from some of the nation’s greatest private collections, we are partnering with RADA, Intelligence Squared and Fantasia Orchestra to deliver a programme of musical and dramatic performances, cultural and historical debates and talks with contemporary artists and creatives.”

On Monday 13 June at 1:00 pm in Pauline Boty, Pop Artist and Woman, Dr Sue Tate and Sotheby’s Frances Christie will discuss Boty’s life and work, including her important 1962 painting With Love to Jean Paul Belmondo which is due to be auctioned by Sotheby’s on 29th June [please see previous News item].

For further information on the festival please click here: [link]

Major work by Boty to be sold by Sotheby’s in Jubilee Auction

On 29th June “British Art: The Jubilee Auction” at Sotheby’s in London will include Pauline Boty’s 1962 painting With Love to Jean-Paul Belmondo, with an estimated sale price of 500,000 – 800,000 GBP.

WITH LOVE TO JEAN-PAUL BELMONDO, oil on canvas, 1962

Sotheby’s describe the sale as follows: “In June 2022, the world’s attention will turn to London as we pay tribute to Queen Elizabeth II, the longest serving monarch in UK history, admired and respected globally for her 70 years of service. To mark this significant moment, we will hold a major live-streamed Evening auction dedicated to the best of British Art. The sale will incorporate artists such as Gainsborough, Constable and Millais working in the 18th and 19th centuries to icons of the 20th century such as Barbara Hepworth and L.S. Lowry, and into the 21st century with artists such as Bridget Riley and Banksy.”

With Love to Jean-Paul Belmondo will also be included in an exhibition at Sotheby’s in London from 28th May–15th June and 22nd–29th June. In the intervening time it will be on display in New York with other key works.

More information on the sale is available here: [link]

On 13th June Dr Sue Tate and Sotheby’s Frances Christie will be in conversation as part of the Jubilee Arts Festival – a programme of musical and dramatic performances, cultural and historical debates and talks with contemporary artists and creatives. Further details to follow soon here.

Details
With Love to Jean-Paul Belmondo by Pauline Boty
Oil on canvas
Signed BOTY, titled and dated 62 (on canvas overlap)
Property from a French Private Collection

Unframed: 152.5 by 122cm.; 60 by 48¼in.
Framed: 154 by 123.5cm.; 60½ by 48¾in.
Executed in 1962.

Pauline Boty signed photo by John Aston sold at RR Auction

Pauline Boty signed photo by John Aston, 1962. Image courtesty of RR Auction

Earlier this week the photo above by John Aston of Boty smoking a cigarette was sold by RR Auction based in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, specialists in rare manuscripts, autographs, and historic artefacts. Signed and inscribed in fountain pen, “To George, Best wishes, Pauline Boty”. Vintage glossy 8.75″ x 5.75” photo. Price realised: $1,242 [plus Buyer’s Premium]. Estimate: $200+.

Taken in 1962, this is from a series John Aston took which included a portrait of Boty standing in front of a painting by her of Marilyn Monroe, mimicking Monroe’s pose with beads in mouth. The whereabouts of this are now unknown, although it is possible that it was overpainted to become “The Only Blonde in the World”.  

Please click here to see the version held by the National Portrait Gallery [link]

Boty drawing of Clive Goodwin sold at Sworders Fine Art Auctioneers

Earlier today a drawing by Boty of her husband Clive Goodwin sold for almost double its high estimate. The following image and details are all courtesy of Sworders Fine Art Auctioneers:

Pauline Boty. “The artist’s husband, Clive Goodwin, reclining”, c.1963. Image courtesy of Sworders Fine Art Auctioneers

Pauline Boty (1938-1966). The artist’s husband, Clive Goodwin, reclining, c.1963, pencil. 25 x 20 cm. Price realised GBP 5,500. Estimate GBP 2,000 – GBP 3,000.

Reclining with ease, Boty captures her husband Clive Goodwin in a moment of sleepy repose. The intimacy of the composition is primarily created through the simplicity of the line, which captures the figure with such confidence it speaks of familiarity. Moreover, the drawing’s cropped focus and its unusual angle of looking up Clive’s nostrils adds a playful and loving air to the piece.

Boty draws with a quick and assured line that identifies shapes within the scene, the jumper, belt, nostrils, lips and striped wallpaper in the background are all outlined. This technique of capturing form through simple line is reminiscent of the bold forms found in British Pop Art.
Boty was born in South London in 1938, she was the youngest of four children and grew up in a conservative Catholic family. In 1954, she won a scholarship to Wimbledon School of Art, which she accepted with the support of her mother (whose artistic ambitions had been thwarted by her parents).

Boty studied lithography and stained-glass making, but also painted in a distinctive style. She exhibited with the Young Contemporaries alongside Robyn Denny and Bridget Riley in both 1957 and 1959. Her developing friendships with Pop artists such as Hockney and Blake drew her further into this circle, and in 1961, she participated in a group show titled ‘Blake, Boty, Porter, Reeve’. Just two years later, she had her first solo show at the Grabowski Gallery, which was received with acclaim. After a brief stint in acting and on radio, Boty returned to painting. Her work became increasingly political with anti-Vietnam War and anti-patriarchy themes emerging.
After a whirlwind romance, she married Clive Goodwin in 1963, which is the same year this drawing was undertaken. Boty became pregnant with their first child in 1965, but early into the pregnancy, doctors discovered a cancerous tumour. Knowing that treatment would damage the foetus, Boty chose not to pursue this and she died aged just twenty-eight, only five months after the birth of her daughter.

In 2013, Boty received her first retrospective at the Wolverhampton Art Gallery; later travelled to Pallant House Gallery.

Provenance
Estate of Pauline Boty;
estate of Clive Goodwin;
Nicholas Grindley

PAULINE BOTY (1938-1966)
The artist’s husband, Clive Goodwin, reclining
Pencil on paper
25 x 20cm
Executed circa 1963

Early Boty study for stained glass sold at Christie’s

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:

Pauline Boty (1938-1966). Designs for stained glass window. Price realised GBP 20,000. Estimate GBP 7,000 – GBP 10,000. © Christie’s Images Limited 2021

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’.

Provenance
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

Literature
Exhibition catalogue, Pop Art Heroes Britain, London, Whitford Fine Art, 2016, pp. 26–27, no. 13, illustrated

Exhibited
London, Whitford Fine Art, Pop Art Heroes Britain, May – July 2016, no. 13