Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Portrait of Poppet in a Black Hat by Augustus John

Twenty-two paintings and drawings by Augustus John that belonged to the Hollywood actress Elizabeth Taylor are to be included in Christie’s Impressionist and Modern art sales, which go on view in London at the beginning of February. Elizabeth Taylor was born in 1932 in Hampstead in a house that had been owned by John, whose paintings remained on the walls when the Taylors moved in. Her father, Francis Taylor, was an art dealer based in Old Bond Street, and he established a close relationship with John. When he moved to California he became John’s American agent. When he died, Elizabeth Taylor inherited his collection of Johns and occasionally added to it. An example is a glamorous portrait of the artist’s daughter, Poppet, bought in 1979, 11 years after her father died. It is now estimated at £40,000 to £60,000. The most valuable painting from Miss Taylor’s collection, however, is a landscape by Vincent van Gogh, Vue de l’Asile de la Chapelle de Saint-Remy, which her father bought at Christie’s in 1963 on her behalf, and which is now estimated at £5 million to £7 million. The painting had been the subject of a restitution claim by the heirs of a German Jewish art collector who claimed that it was sold under duress during the Nazi era. The claim was not, however, upheld by US Supreme Court. - Colin Gleadell

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