Blog - Grand Auctions


Coming up in our 9th July 2018 Fine Arts Sale are two paintings by Spike Milligan, which is great in his centenary year. In this blog, Charles Newington, talks about his friendship with Spike.

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  • Posted by Jonathan Riley

Every now and then we come across a painter whose work is very interesting and somewhat different, but at the same time familiar. We have a small collection of paintings in our current sale (lots 258-262) from a collector of the work of George Shirlaw, a genuine character. George started life with an incredibly traumatic experience, he witnessed his father being decapitated and his mother tortured and killed by the Japanese after the fall of Singapore. He was saved by an airman, who took him to Australia to see out the war.

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  • Posted by Jonathan Riley

We had a very successful sale of Bratby memorabilia raising over £6,700 for Patti to help with care home fees. So many thanks to all the Bratby fans who bought so generously.

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  • Posted by Jonathan Riley

On Monday 8th May we are selling a large painting of the highest quality, The Annunciation with Saint Charles Borromeo, attributed to the French master Nicolas Mignard (1606-1668). The painting came up for sale on April 2010 at Christie's Old Master and 19th Century Sale in King Street estimated at £15,000 to £20,000.

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  • Posted by Jonathan Riley

We have for sale an exquisite painting by Brian Shields, known by all as Braaq. Brian was a very talented artist when young and was nicknamed Braque by his school friends. The name stuck but he changed it to Braaq. Mind you, it is surprising his friends had heard of Braque, good for them.

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  • Posted by Jonathan Riley

No doubt many of you will have read about or seen the American Abstract Expressionists’ exhibition at the Royal Academy. Together with Dominic Kemp, our excellent auctioneer, I went to see the RA show.

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  • Posted by Jonathan Riley

I happened to be in London the other day before attending a members’ forum at the MCC, when I called into The Whitford Fine Art Gallery, which always seems to have interesting exhibitions. I was absolutely blown away by the current exhibition of abstract expressionist works by the British artist Avray Wilson. Avray was the original renaissance man, scientist, artist, writer and intellectual, but above all at best he could paint superbly. The gallery gave me a short piece about Avray, which I have copied below. If you want a free visual feast, go along to Whitford Fine Art in Duke Street, St. James’s. Above is the painting Conjugation.

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  • Posted by Jonathan Riley

We are delighted to report that Grand Auctions set a new auction record for prints by HRH Prince Charles in our September sale. The two most popular subjects were Balmoral (pictured above) and Sandringham (pictured below), both of which made £1,800 hammer.

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  • Posted by Jonathan Riley

It is a lucky coincidence that we are selling one of Charles Newington’s major paintings at the same time there is a major exhibition of the paintings of Wifredo Lam at the Tate Gallery. Unfortunately the exhibition is at Tate Modern, a building I greatly dislike. Lam, together with Roberto Matta, has been one of the inspirations for Charles’s work throughout his life. Lam was born in Sagua La Grande, Cuba with a Chinese father and a mother of Spanish/African heritage, an interesting mix. He was given money by his home town to attend art school in Madrid. Unknown to many in his later life, Lam studied in detail the work of the Old Masters and developed a career as a portrait painter.

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  • Posted by Jonathan Riley

Among the notable paintings in the Rwanda Sale is one by Andrew Vicari, which had previously been put up for sale by Christie’s in Dubai in 2006 at an estimated value of $25,000 to $35,000. In 2006 Vicari appeared in the Sunday Times Rich List with a fortune of £92 million, which made him the world’s richest living painter.

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  • Posted by Jonathan Riley

Our sale on September 19th will give people a unique opportunity to play their part completing the building of a school for impoverished children in Rwanda. We have a sale of more than 140 paintings.

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  • Posted by Jonathan Riley

Two very interesting, large engravings are coming up for sale on Monday 11th July with local and national interest. One of them depicts Henry VIII embarking from Dover to sail to France to meet the King of France for his famous Tudor PR stunt of the Field of Cloth of Gold, which is the subject for the second engraving.

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  • Posted by Jonathan Riley

With great timing, the Redfern Gallery will be holding a major exhibition of David Tindle’s work on 7th June in Cork Street to coincide with the opening of the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. If you want to buy some interesting Tindles, now is the time to bid at our auction before prices are affected by all the forthcoming publicity.

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  • Posted by Jonathan Riley

Grand Auctions is sponsoring an unusual exhibition at Flavours by Kumar restaurant in Ramsgate. People have heard me often praising the standard of food at this restaurant and of course, take my words with a pinch of salt. But this year it is official, Flavours by Kumar is the best Indian restaurant in the UK. Recently Anil Kumar was presented with the Tiffin Cup in the House of Commons by Keith Vaz after a competition for Indian restaurants from all over Britain. Well done Anil. His prices are also amazingly reasonable for the quality of food.

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  • Posted by Jonathan Riley

Grand Auctions is delighted to offer for sale the studio of Charles Newington, one of Britain’s most original artists. Charles is best known in the Folkestone area for his White Horse on the Hill, a much loved local landmark and now the logo for Shepway District Council.

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  • Posted by Jonathan Riley

Recently the artist Charles Newington was filmed in the TV programme 'Coast' as the painter William Daniell. The scene in the TV production remembered the remarkable and often perilous work of William Daniell on his epic travels around the coast of Britain 1814-1825.

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  • Posted by Jonathan Riley
John Constable The Hay Wain

Recently a small painting by John Constable was given a major feature on BBC’s morning news programme. The vendor’s father had bought the painting as part of a job lot from a Canterbury auction house for £30. We have been offered at least three ‘Constables’, a ‘Mondrian’ and a ‘Rembrandt’ in the short time we have been in operation. Fakes abound where artists make good money, which is understandable, but rather sad. The three ‘Constables’ offered to me were patently fakes, but how does one tell whether it is a fake or not. If you know an artist’s work well, the brushwork and composition of the painting will be the biggest clue. When the TV cameras showed a close up of the Constable, it was relatively easy to tell the painting might well be by Constable, the subject, brushwork and composition all suggested it could be genuine.

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  • Posted by Jonathan Riley
Dance to the Music of Time by Nicolas Poussin at the Wallace Collection, London. Anthony Powell.

After my light hearted blog selecting my five favourite paintings in the world, I received a slightly curt Twitter repsonse from the Prado Gallery in Madrid. The gist of the message was that there were many old masters worthy of consideration. I think the gallery has slightly missed the point, five from the world’s art collection hardly gives me a chance to mention their many Goyas, El Grecos and Velazquez.

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  • Posted by Jonathan Riley
Birth of Venus Botticelli Uffizi Museum Florence

Never a day seems to pass without the media asking us to vote for the greatest, the best and worst of all, the most unique film, tune, footballer etc. etc.. It is always the same, the best, greatest, unique seems to have been famous in the last few years. Memories are short, and most of the voters are young.

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  • Posted by Jonathan Riley
Sunderland flying boat Battle of Britain Barrie Clark

Anyone interested in the aeroplanes of the Battle of Britain should come to Grand Auctions, where there are several paintings of the most famous planes coming up for sale. There is a large and very impressive painting of the iconic Lancaster bomber, which even had a success in the recent past. During the Test Match between England and Australia at Lords, there was a flight of a Lancaster and two Spitfires over the ground. All the crowd stood up and cheered and play stopped. Andrew Strauss, who was batting very well at the time was soon out after play resumed, he blamed the Lancaster for his loss of concentration!

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  • Posted by Jonathan Riley
The Crab steam engine Barrie Clark

Grand Auctions is offering for sale an unusual and locally important painting by Barrie Clark of the Crab – no, not the marine creature, a railway engine.

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  • Posted by Jonathan Riley
Pablo Picasso, The Bull

We all know that the art world suffers from a great deal of hype, snobbery and acquisitive motivation. But it has always been like that. In Roman times at the end of BC heading into AD the great social divide to sort out the wealthy and successful from the rest was the humble table, hence our expression of ‘turning the tables on someone.’ The great Marcus Tullius Cicero spent the modern equivalent of millions on a superb marble table to show off his status and good taste. We would find all this faintly amusing today, tastes certainly change.

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  • Posted by Jonathan Riley
Henry Moore textile wall panel

Grand Auctions is offering for sale on 23rd May a textile wall panel designed by Henry Moore in the 1940s, only 65 of which were made. Moore was commissioned to design textiles by Zika Ascher, a Czech textile manufacturer, who had fled Gemany before the war. He also commissioned Sutherland, Picasso, Matisse and Derain.

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  • Posted by Jonathan Riley
Deux Femmes dans un Arbre Pablo Picasso etching

It is not often that a small provincial town can offer for sale a work by Pablo Picasso, the world’s greatest painter of the twentieth century. Grand Auctions has for sale ‘Deux Femmes Nues dans un Arbre’, 1931, an etching by Picasso from an edition of a hundred. One similar impression was sold in Christies, New York in 1988 for $4950 and another sold in Sothebys, Paris recently for over 10,000 euro. The etching displays all of Picasso’s skills as a draughtsman, subtlety and strength.

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  • Posted by Jonathan Riley
David Hockney art exhibition Royal Academy

I went to the Royal Academy early on a Monday morning to find a long queue waiting to gain entrance to the Hockney Exhibition – at 9.30 in the morning! Fortunately, being a member, I was able to join a very short queue, which moved very rapidly with the assistance of the charming and helpful staff employed by the RA, they really are very welcoming. My first surprise was the electronically operated coat stand in the cloakroom, very technologically advanced. The exhibition itself was a tribute to the energy and drive of David Hockney, hardly a youngster. The sheer scale and size of individual canvases was amazing.

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  • Posted by Jonathan Riley
William Turner Flint Castle

Anyone wanting to see a great exhibtion should go to Margate to the Turner Gallery. On Saturday I had almost my perfect afternoon, lunch at the Ambrette, in my humble opinion the best Indian restaurant in the South East, and then to the Turner Gallery. At first I was not sure what to make of it all, there was a foul stench as I neared the entrance. I could not work out whether it was decaying sea weed or the odour from some protestors camping by the entrance. I never found out what they were protesting about, it must have been the seaweed.

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  • Posted by Jonathan Riley
Charles Newington Folkestone giclee print

We all know the cost of insurance has recently escalated dramatically. Many people have paintings inherited or bought that have become valuable and are a lure for thieves. So why not make as perfect a copy as possible to hang on the walls with the original safely stored? Delicate watercolours no longer need be hidden behind their own curtains to avoid fading in the light and hence ruined. Giclee prints are generally known as the finest quality reproductions of images that can be made and they don’t fade.

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  • Posted by Jonathan Riley
Fra Angelico et les Maitres de la Lumiere

Recently I visited the wonderful exhibition, Fra Angelico et les Maîtres de la Lumière, at the delightful Musée Jacquemart-André in Paris. Paintings have been collected from many sources to produce an exhilarating experience for the viewer. At first my heart sank as I saw the immense queue in the street waiting to gain entry. I wondered why so many people wanted to see such an esoteric exhibition, but this was France and Paris.

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  • Posted by Jonathan Riley
Lady Windmere's Fan by Oscar Wilde

Grand Auctions will be selling paintings of costumes for Wilde’s Lady Windermere’s Fan. The play is well known, especially for Wilde’s epigrams. ‘We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars’, ‘Wicked women bother one, good women bore one, that is the only difference between them,’ are two of many.

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  • Posted by Jonathan Riley

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