The 29-lot collection made by patients at Friern Hospital in Barnet during the mid-20th century is being offered a Modern British and Contemporary Art sale on April 18.
Outsider art is defined as the production of art and imagery by individuals practising beyond cultural and societal norms. It originated from the research of mentally ill in-patients by psychiatrists in the early 20th century.
This collection comes from the family of Dr Alec C Dalzell (1905-90), a painter and psychiatrist who was appointed medical superintendent of Friern Hospital in 1945.
Some of the paintings in the collection have comments written on them, referring to the mood of a patient while making the work, like this 10½ x 14½in (27 x 37cm) watercolour by an unknown patient of monkeys in a cage (above).
The inscription reads: ‘None of his usual hesitation before starting this one, he had no help at all. He knew exactly what he wanted to do. His only comment – “The monkeys are not trying to get out, they are enjoying themselves”, 17th May, 1949’. It is among the highest estimated, at £400-600.
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