Percy Wyndham Lewis robe
The embroidered and block-printed silk robe designed by Percy Wyndham Lewis that sold at £29,000 at Mallams of Oxford.

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An extraordinary example of British avant-garde clothing made on the eve of the First World War, it was among a small group of daring textiles made by Wyndham Lewis who is best known as an artist but was also a writer and critic.

The full-length gown, consigned from the north of England, combines bold colours with bands of stylised foxes, swans, fish and kneeling figures.

Mallams’ specialist Philip Smith described it as “a museum piece” before the sale and bidders were prepared to go well over the £2500-3500 estimate. It was eventually knocked down at £29,000.

It is thought that this robe was among the influential textiles produced by the Bloomsbury Group’s Omega Workshops. However, a similar robe and a printed panel of this Vorticist design (part of the Paul Reeve textile collection sold by Lyon & Turnbull) have been attributed to the Rebel Art Centre – the short-lived workshop set up in 1914 after Lewis and several Omega artists had quarrelled with the Bloomsbury set.