A monumental figure from Hepworth’s (1903-75) major bronze Family of Man series from 1970 led the evening with a bid of £3.2m. Bought by the vendor in 1972 and estimated at £2m-3m, it was underbid by US art adviser Abigail Asher, according to Artnet News.
Meanwhile, Moore’s (1898-1986) large polished bronze Working Model for Oval with Points, conceived in c.1968-69 and purchased for a private North American collection in 1985, sold comfortably over estimate for £1.7m to New York dealer Chris Eykyn.
Frink in the running
Christie’s also broke its own auction record for Frink (1930-93) when Running Man (Front Runner) – a life-size bronze from 1986 of a solitary figure frozen mid-stride commissioned by WH Smith for its Swindon HQ – sold above a £400,000-600,000 estimate for £900,000.
With premium bringing the total to £1.09m, it scraped past Frink’s 1983 bronze Seated Man – another from her repertoire of fulllength male nudes – which sold in 2014 for £1.08m (with fees).
At Christie’s day sale, two successive records were achieved for the Caribbean-born British artist Frank Bowling (b.1934), currently the subject of a major retrospective at Tate Britain. Consigned with two other Bowling paintings from the estate of artist David Methuen Campbell, these were rare figurative works from his formative years and difficult to value.
A self-portrait painted in 1959 while Bowling was still a student sold in excess of a £30,000-50,000 estimate for £360,000, while a larger painting of a beggar outside Bowling’s mother’s house from 1963 was pushed to £570,000 – over seven times the top guide.
Bowling’s previous auction high was $130,000 (around £105,000) for one of his mid-1970s ‘poured paintings’ at Swann of New York in 2017. The artist’s later 1970s abstract works are deemed to be the most commercial and have been known to sell privately for over $1m.