Peter Rose Pulham painting

Mirror and Mantlepiece by Peter Rose Pulham, estimated £5000-7000 at Anderson & Garland.

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The piece, titled Mirror and Mantlepiece, is estimated at £5000-7000 at the firm’s Modern Art & Design auction on May 23.

The painter, who trained as an architect but became a photographer for Harper’s Bazaar, was initially better known for his photos of artists such as Pablo Picasso and surrealists like Max Ernst but began to produce his own surrealist-style works in the late 1930s.

He went on to exhibit at the Redfern Gallery, the Hanover Gallery and the London Gallery, and the critic and writer George Melly believed Pulham would have become an important name in 20th century art had he not died at a relatively young age. Today examples of Pulham's work can be found in public collections such as the National Galleries of Scotland and the Tate.

His pictures however remain relatively rare on the market, in part due to the fact that his studio in Chelsea was hit by a bomb in 1941 that destroyed many of his pictures up to that point.

The example in Newcastle, a 2ft 5in x 3ft (73 x 92cm) signed oil on canvas, has been consigned by collectors Willie and Anne Charlton who purchased Mirror and Mantlepiece in Glasgow sometime in the early 1960s after their wedding. The Charltons were both good amateur artists themselves, and Anne's aunt was a sculptor. They were also keen collectors of LS Lowry and John Atkinson Grimshaw, and friends with artists Kenneth Rowntree and Andrew Festing.

Historically, the family moved in many artistic circles in the 1930s with the couple remembering a close friendship with English writer and philosopher Aldous Huxley.

Label and inscription

A label and inscription to the back of the painting by Peter Rose Pulham being offered at Anderson & Garland.

Artistic connections

Pulham was born in London and studied at the Architectural Association School from 1927-8 but by the early 1930s was working as a photographer in Paris, producing work for Harper’s Bazaar. He soon found himself in the company of a diverse circle of artists, including Pablo Picasso, whom he photographed in his studio in 1936.

He fled France with his girlfriend, the writer Theodora Fitzgibbon, as the Nazis advanced across Europe, returning to London and becoming part of the Soho drinking crowd. Among his close friends were Isabel Rawsthorne, Daniel Farson, George Melly, Lucian Freud, David Sylvester and, most notably, Francis Bacon.

In the mid-1940s, a friendship formed between Pulham, Fitzgibbon, and the poet Dylan Thomas, who was a drinking companion of Bacon. Like Bacon, Pulham harbored a distaste for the insular nature of British art and shared a passion for France. Even after relocating to London, Pulham maintained connections with surrealists such as Man Ray and Picasso, a fact that Bacon envied.

While his post-War work was heavily influenced by Bacon, Pulham continued to make contributions to Lilliput magazine and published a number of articles on photography.