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]

Playlist for Pauline Boty added to website

A new Spotify playlist of music relating to Boty is now available. The tracks are organised into sections representing their relevance – as titles or subjects of the works, as soundtracks to her onscreen appearances on TV and film, to her appearances on Ready Steady Go! and to the collaged wall she created in her flat in west London. 

Please click here to go to the playlist and see details behind the track selection [link]

New page on Pauline Boty’s collaged wall added to the site

Pauline Boty: collaged wall key for 1964 Roger Mayne photo, v2, March 2021

The collaged wall created by Pauline Boty and photographed by Roger Mayne in 1964 has now been added to the site together with the numbered key shown above identifying some 60 items so far.
As stated on the page, it is greatly hoped that this will provide a starting point for identifying the array of items chosen by Boty to adorn the wall, and that in time more of them will be identified and the list expanded further.
All comments, corrections, clarifications and suggestions from visitors to the site in this regard would be greatly appreciated, via the Contact form here: [link]
The new page can be accessed here: [link]

Slideshow and sources info for collages added to the site

The slideshow below of Pauline Boty’s collages shown in Ken Russell’s 1962 documentary Pop Goes the Easel  has now also been added to the Collages section of the site [link] as detailed in a previous News item here [link].

In addition a new page has been added giving information on the sources of titles for a number of collages here [link].

Images of Boty’s lost collages seen in “Pop Goes the Easel” to be shown on paulineboty.org

“Untitled (I surrender dear)”, collage, c. 1961. Screen grab from “Pop Goes the Easel”. © Estate of Pauline Boty

I would like to thank the BBC Photo Library for their assistance in confirming that copyright for the images of Pauline Boty’s works shown in Ken Russell’s 1962 documentary Pop Goes the Easel resides with the Estate of Pauline Boty, and am delighted therefore to be able to include them on this website.
Commissioned by BBC Television for its Monitor series, Russell’s film includes 16 of Boty’s works shown initially full screen and face-on and then side-on whilst she sat with Peter Blake to discuss their content and sources of imagery. The titles aren’t discussed, but as mentioned in the previous News item, the hope is to ultimately match at least some of them to those of works exhibited in the Blake, Boty, Porter, Reeve exhibition which took place at the AIA Gallery whilst the programme was being filmed.

For UK viewers, Pop Goes the Easel is currently available on iPlayer here: [link]

Updated Collages section on the website with many titles added

“Blake, Boty, Porter, Reeve” list of works; AIA Gallery; 30 November – 29 December 1961

Much thanks are due to Geoffrey Reeve for sending in a copy of the list of works that include those shown by Pauline Boty in the group exhibition Blake, Boty, Porter, Reeve at the AIA Gallery in London in late 1961 which have now been added to the Collages listed here on the website. Many of these works, now sadly presumed lost, made an appearance in Ken Russell’s Pop Goes the Easel, originally broadcast by the BBC as part of the Monitor series of arts programme on 25th March 1962. Ultimately it is hoped further research will enable at least some of the lost collages shown in the film to be matched to their titles.

New study of 1960s London art world including Pauline Boty is published on 9th June

“London’s New Scene: Art and Culture in the 1960s” by Lisa Tickner. Cover photo: 4th April 1967: Fab Pop Bash with Rauschenberg © Elsbeth Juda

In London’s New Scene: Art and Culture in the 1960s Lisa Tickner presents a sequence of critical case studies, each of which explores a particular institution or event in the cultural life of London between 1962 and 1968. Each chapter takes a particular topic as its focus – these include Ken Russell’s film Pop Goes the Easel (1962), the opening of the Kasmin Gallery (1963), the first of the New Generation exhibitions and Painting and Sculpture of a Decade: ’54-’64 at the Whitechapel and Tate Galleries (1964), Lord Snowdon’s photographs of artists in Private View (1965), Antonioni’s London film Blow-Up (1966), and more. The book treats a film, a gallery, an exhibition, a book, a protest, as itself a ’work’: as a creative project in its own right, built from the resources to hand, subject to the pressures of the moment, comparable in its own way to the art it draws on or frames.

Page 44 /fig. 32 Pauline Boty, 1963. Photograph by Jorge Lewinski, Private collection © The Lewinski Archive at Chatsworth/Bridgeman Images

The illustrations include art works by David Hockney, Peter Blake, Derek Boshier, Pauline Boty, Bridget Riley, John Latham and Barry Flanagan, photographs by David Bailey, Ida Kar, Jorge Lewinski and Lord Snowdon, and a wide range of film stills, gallery installation shots, advertisements and press photography.” [information courtesy of Yale University Press]

SPECIFICATIONS
Publisher: Paul Mellon Centre
Distribution: Yale University Press
Format: Hardback
Size: 256 x 192mm
Pages: 424pp
Illustrations: 200/80 colour
ISBN: 9781913107109
Price: £35

More information available here [link]