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Painting among the works from the private collection of Royal interior decorator Robert Kime

The Turn of the Plough by George Gascoyne (1862-1933). Estimate £8,000-£12,000 (Lot 309)

UK. SEPTEMBER 2023. A painting by the English artist George Gascoyne (1862-1933)that hung on the main staircase in the now defunct Junior Carlton Club in London, is set to head to auction. The club which was based in plush headquarters in Pall Mall, designed by Scottish architect David Brandon (1813-1897), was operational from 1864-1977. It was formed in anticipation of the second Reform Act of 1867, which ‘enfranchised’ or gave the vote to, all householders in the boroughs, as well as tenants who paid rent of £10 a year or more. The second Reform Act also reduced the property threshold in the counties and gave the vote to agricultural landowners and tenants with very small amounts of land.

The club was designed to offer a membership to those not given admission to the more elite gentlemen’s clubs of London, such as the Carlton Club, which had a locked-in number of members and a long waiting list. It was therefore given the prefix ‘Junior’ to allude to the grander establishments and aligned the club with other ‘Junior’ clubs, such as the Junior Oxford & Cambridge Club and the Junior Athenaeum Club.

The ‘senior’ Carlton Club’s building at 94 Pall Mall suffered a direct hit during the war and lay derelict until in 1963, when the ‘Junior Carlton Club’ sold its headquarters to build ‘the club of the future’ in the old club’s spot. The result was a concrete structure decorated in 1960’s style which was opened in 1968 and is still in use today, as an office building. It was not liked by all and some members left. By 1977 the club was dissolved and its few remaining members merged with the Carlton Club that we know today.

The painting titled The Turn of the Plough had a prominent position in the club on the main staircase and fits with the theme of the approaching second Reform Act, depicting men working closely with their horses on the land. The work is painted in what’s known as the social realist tradition – a method of using visual art to highlight political and social issues – in particular looking at poverty, injustice and corruption within a society.

The Studio Magazine, wrote in 1915 that ‘the horse that serves the worker in the fields [is where] Mr Gascoyne is pictorially most intimate…and in this vein..is seen at his best’ (Vol.63. p.144). The bold large-scale work with its stunning haze of light and rich warmth of colour, draws your attention into this one specific moment in time and makes a bold statement through the visual medium of painting.

Born in Sittingbourne, Kent, George Gascoyne was a painter and engraver, particularly known for his equestrian depictions. He studied at the prestigious Slade School of Fine Art and from 1884 exhibited at the Royal Academy. This particular painting was exhibited at the Academy in 1894. His work is highly sought-after and this work in oil on canvas carries an estimate of £8,000-£12,000 (Lot 309). It was purchased by Royal Interior Decorator Robert Kime in 2012 and will be sold alongside 900 lots from his private collection in a three-day sale at Dreweatts on October 4th,5th & 6th.

His projects included the redecoration of Clarence House and Highgrove for King Charles III, as well as properties for an array of celebrities, such as Duran Duran’s John Taylor and his wife Gela Nash-Taylor (founder of fashion brand Juicy Couture). Known the world over as a titan of design, a polymath, and the ‘great assembler’ of beautiful things, Robert Kime’s unique eye and aesthetic sensibility led him to become one of the leading design figures of his generation. The auction features lots ranging in value from £40 to £100,000 and it is expected to achieve in excess of £1.5m. It charts his passion, curiosity and delight in beautiful things through the contents of his homes in London and Provence.