The works feature in a series of mixed-owner sales throughout the autumn in London and New York. But the first item on offer will be an Andy Warhol screenprint portrait of Mick Jagger from 1975 (inscribed by Warhol ‘To John R’) which will be offered in a special single-lot auction in September.
Richardson, a biographer of Pablo Picasso who was known for the close relationships he established with many leading artists, had wide-ranging taste and acquired works from multiple sources. Some were gifts from artists, while other pictures he acquired from friends or galleries. He even bought objects from places like the Paris fleamarkets which were displayed alongside the most important works from his collection in his Fifth Avenue loft in New York, which was noted for its bohemian interior and eclectic style.
After he died aged 95 last year, the author and documentary filmmaker Hannah Rothschild, a long-time friend, said: “John was a man of ravenous appetites, prodigious curiosity and impeccable taste with a magpie-like eye. These attributes are reflected in his style of collecting—where else could you find a Lucian Freud self-portrait hung alongside a Picasso drawing in a room with a feather boa resting on a cushion made from an 18th century scrap of material found in a Paris fleamarket?”
Below is a selection of highlight from the collection.
Among three Freud prints offered at Sotheby’s is Self Portrait: Reflection, an etching dedicated by Freud to Richardson: “John with love from Lucian.” The work was in fact the artist’s only etched self-portrait and is much darker than his other prints due to the complex layering of etched lines (and the help of Freud’s long-time printer Marc Balakjian), which creates a dramatic and haunting effect.
The collection features two other etchings produced by Freud in editions of 46 and 40 respectively, David Dawson, estimated at $25,000-35,000 and Kai, estimated at $70,000-100,000, both of which are also inscribed by the artist to Richardson.
Another highlight from the Richardson consignment is Pavel Tchelitchew’s Dancers, a painting from 1933 which was part of a series of works by the artist depicting circus dancers, jugglers, strong-men and other performers. The subject is likely derived from the artist’s long spell as a set designer, working from 1919 to the mid-1940s in ballet productions by Sergei Diaghilev and George Balanchine.
This picture, which has provenance to Henry P McIlhenny, curator and chairman of the Philadelphia Museum Art, is estimated at $200,000-300,000 at Sotheby’s.
Lévy-Dhurmer’s cloudy landscape
A monumental landscape by French painter Lucien Lévy-Dhurmer also features in the Richardson’s collection. Paysage Montagneux dates from a time when the artist began to move away from symbolist works and focus on more naturalistic scenes, drawing influence from the works of James Abbott McNeill Whistler and Claude Monet in particular.
This picture has provenance to Auguste Rateau and was acquired by Richardson’s close friend, the interior decorator Geoffrey Bennison, at Sotheby’s London in 1972. Making its first appearance at auction in more than 45 years, it is estimated at $150,000-250,000.
Warhol’s Jagger portrait
A personalised screenprint by Warhol of Jagger, estimated at $25,000-35,000, will be offered in a special single-lot auction at Sotheby’s in September. The 1975 portrait is inscribed by Warhol ‘To John R’.