The sale, which takes place on April 5, features 130 drawings by the artist who has contributed to Private Eye, The New York and The Sunday Times during a career spanning more than 50 years.
I feel it’s the duty of an artist to re-interpret the world and to freshen our stale vision, making us see what we hadn’t realised was there,” says Scarfe, 80. “What I’m trying to do is simply to bring out their essential characteristics. I find a particular delight in taking the caricature as far as I can.”
Sotheby’s has positioned his scathing satire as following an English tradition dating back to Hogarth Cruikshank and Gillray.
Today he is arguably best known for his work as political cartoonist for The Sunday Times, and the sale incorporates many of his published and unpublished works. It also includes his paintings for the 1982 film adaptation of Pink Floyd’s The Wall and the 1997 Disney animated feature Hercules.
Churchill drawing suppressed
The top lot is expected to be Scarfe’s drawing of Winston Churchill’s last appearance in the House of Commons in 1964. The drawing was commissioned by The Times but was ultimately deemed too controversial to publish.
Sarfe recalled that The Times refused to print on the basis that Churchill’s wife Clementine “would be upset when the paper dropped through the letter-box in the morning”.
Private Eye used the image on its cover when Churchill died less than six months later.
It has been exhibited at Portcullis House, House of Commons until recently and is estimated at £100,000-150,000.
“These drawings pack a significant punch,” said Philip Errington, Sotheby’s books and manuscripts specialist. “There is truly an eclectic mix spanning his entire half-century career.”