Works from The Illustrated London News Archive to be Sold at Christie’s in October

South Kensington, London—Christie’s is proud to announce that it will offer works from the collection of The Illustrated London News Group in the Interiors sale on 7 October 2014. The works on offer include original illustrations and artworks from the world’s first illustrated weekly news magazine, The Illustrated London News, published from 1842 to 2003 and The Sphere, a weekly illustrated newspaper published from 1900 to 1964. The illustrations offered from the collection, the majority of which were reproduced in print, highlight the role that these publications played in chronicling through imagery British history in the 20th Century. From their coverage of royal events including the Royal wedding of Queen Elizabeth and Phillip Mountbatten, to the publications’ coverage of WWI and WWII, and The Festival of Britain, the illustrations offer a diverse and fascinating insight into the way The Illustrated London News documented key events of the time to its British and North American readership. The sale features works on paper by leading artists and illustrators of the period, Bryan de Grineau, Steven Ward, Fortunino Matania and several oils by Terence Cuneo, all of whom worked for the publications. Highlights from the collection are on view at Christie’s South Kensington until 30 July 2014.

James Richards, Drawings and Watercolours Specialist, Christie’s South Kensington: “The Illustrated London News was at the forefront of the development of visual journalism and this collection is an unprecedented treasure trove of artworks from one of the 20th century’s most important publications by some of the best illustrators of the time. It is particularly fitting that the core of the collection, Fortunino Matania’s World War illustrations for The Sphere, should come to light one hundred years after the war’s outbreak, and offer a first-hand account of that turbulent period in history at such a poignant time.”

Leading the collection are two oil paintings by Terence Cuneo (1907 - 1996) one of Britain’s leading artists of the period, executed to adorn the front covers of special numbers of The Illustrated London News for the 1947 Royal wedding of Queen Elizabeth and Phillip Mountbatten (estimate: £10,000-15,000, illustrated page 1 left) and to celebrate the Festival of Britain in 1951 (estimate: £ 10,000 - 15,000, illustrated page right).

The core of the collection comprises works by Fortunino Matania, one of the most celebrated illustrators of the 20th Century and one of the group’s leading artists. Matania, who was born in Italy but moved to England in 1904, began working for The Sphere the same year. He would go on to become their Special Artist, a collaboration which would stretch over five decades. Matania’s precise, photographic style with remarkable powers of observation meant that he had a unique ability to translate the fascinating historical events he witnessed with an unnerving realism.

The apogee of Matania’s work are the large number of illustrations he executed whilst an official war artist covering the First World War for The Sphere. Poignantly they come to the market in the centenary of the War’s start and offer a fascinating insight to his first-hand experience of the front line. They cover every aspect, from entertainment behind the lines and hospital trains; to the home front and a depiction of women working in a cavernous munitions factory (estimate: £700-1,000, illustrated above); to a gas attack on British troops in the trenches (estimate: £700-1,000, illustrated right). Additionally there are also works depicting his coverage of the Second World War and various other events such as the coronation of King George V.

Highlights of the sale will be on view from the 5 - 30 July at Christie’s South Kensington in the Lower Gallery.

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