Treasure trove of art owned by TS Eliot's widow to go under the hammer
Friday 31 May 2013
It's the collection that Cats built. A multi-million pound treasure trove of works by artists including JMW Turner, Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud and Winston Churchill owned by poet TS Eliot's widow will be sold in London later this year.
Valerie Eliot, who died in November aged 86, bought the artworks with royalties from the hit Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Cats, which was based on her husband's volume of light verse Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats.
The musical proved more lucrative than Eliot's poetry, and allowed his widow to assemble a collection of British art valued at more than £5 million in the London home she had shared with her husband.
Orlando Rock, deputy chairman of Christie's Europe, said Valerie Eliot bought art as "a celebration of the best of British" and a tribute to her US-born husband, who had become a beloved British poet by the time he died in 1965.
"It was done on a very domestic scale," Rock said. "It all fitted into the flat they lived in ... and became almost a shrine to everything TS Eliot had achieved."
The collection includes drawings and watercolors by 18th- and 19th-century British artists such as Turner, Thomas Gainsborough and John Constable, whose landscape "Helmingham Dell, Suffolk" is valued by Christie's at between 300,000 and 500,000 pounds.
Eliot's rich trove of 20th-century art includes valuable works by sculptors Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth and painters Bacon, Freud, David Hockney and L.S. Lowry, a popular chronicler of working-class urban life. Lowry's seaside painting Deal Sands is on sale with an estimate of £150,000 to £200,000.
There's also a self-portrait by Stanley Spencer, which the artist sold at a village fair in the 1950s for £11, now valued at between £200,000 and £300,000.
"The Cathedral, Hackwood Park," a tree-lined landscape by Churchill, is expected to fetch between £200,000 and £300,000.
The sale also includes a collection of portrait miniatures from the 16th through the 19th centuries, and pieces of jewelry and furniture.
Valerie met TS Eliot at London publisher Faber & Faber, where the Nobel literature laureate was a director and she a star-struck secretary who had been a fan of his work since her teenage years.
They married in 1957. After the poet's death, Valerie spent almost four decades as guardian of his literary legacy.
In keeping with his wishes, she refused to co-operate with would-be biographers. But she welcomed the unlikely idea of a stage musical based on Possum's Book of Practical Cats, which became a global sensation.
Proceeds from the Christie's sale will go to Old Possum's Practical Trust, an arts charity Valerie Eliot set up with some of the money from Cats.
The works will go under the hammer on 20 November in London. Highlights are on view in London from 28 June to 2 July.
Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challengeTV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 2 Mystery man who gave mum heart-warming note on train 'wanted to put a smile on her face'
- 3 Michelle Obama highlights harsh restrictions faced by Saudi women after meeting King Salman without wearing a headscarf
- 4 Mafia's wall of silence broken: Victim of Cosa Nostra's extortion rackets in its Corleone heartland co-operates with authorities for the first time ever
- 5 Amal Clooney gives excellent answer to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
Heavy metal producer's corpse to be mutilated by models as per his dying wish
Game of Thrones season 5: Grey Worm actor Jacob Anderson is all for more male nudity – as long as it’s not him
The Jump 2015 line-up: Joey Essex, Phil Tufnell, Heather Mills and co take to the slopes
New Ghostbusters movie lands all-female cast with Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones
Grumpy Roald Dahl letter warning student to 'eschew beastly adjectives' rediscovered after 35 years
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
Louise Mensch says 'F**K YOU' in explosive tweets about David Cameron, Saudi Embassy and the Queen over King Abdullah tributes