He had been invited to attend lunch at the prime minister’s Buckinghamshire country retreat after Margaret Thatcher had admired one of his paintings hanging in her close friend Lord Laing’s Dunphail residence.
Laing had suggested that he would like to gift Thatcher a painting of Chequers for her personal collection and arranged the commission (as well as giving him a lift in his car).
In his memoirs published in 2013, Warrender recalled sitting closely together on a round table with Thatcher, her husband Denis, Lord Laing and his wife Marion before then being invited to accompany the PM on a walk around the garden to locate a view from which to paint the house. They settled on a viewpoint under a tulip tree looking toward the front entrance.
As the whirlwind afternoon drew to a close, Warrender remembered Thatcher proclaiming: “And now I must see what is happening in those bloody islands” (a reference to the Falklands War which had begun a few weeks earlier).
The two pictures he produced were still part of Thatcher’s collection when she died. They were later sold through London dealer Peter Harrington and, recently, that buyer consigned the works to Dreweatts (26/25/20/12.5% buyer’s premium) in Newbury where they were offered on March 15 with estimates of £3000-5000 each.
First up at the auction was a 9¾ x 15½in (39 x 33cm) oil on canvas showing Chequers in portrait format and from a raised perspective showing more of the grounds. It took £4000.
The following lot was a 15¼ x 12¾in (39 x 33cm) oil on canvas with a sweeping view of the entrance that sold to a UK private buyer bidding online at £13,000.
While Warrender does not have much of a track record at auction, the latter price established a new benchmark for the artist on the secondary market.