Maggi's personal portraits prove popular

PORTRAITS by one of Suffolk's best known artists fetched thousands of pounds when they went under the auctioneer's hammer yesterday.

Laurence Cawley

PORTRAITS by one of Suffolk's best known artists fetched thousands of pounds when they went under the auctioneer's hammer yesterday.

The three portraits by the critically-acclaimed portrait and landscape artist Maggi Hambling, who lives at Rendham, near Saxmundham, show her ageing father, Harry, in the last years of his life. He died aged 95.

The pictures were bought directly from the artist by the seller and were collectively expected to sell for �5,000.


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However, when they came up for sale yesterday at Bonhams' sale at the Athenaeum in Bury St Edmunds, the oil painting alone made �5,704 after commission.

One of the ink wash portraits failed to sell, but the second made nearly �2,000.

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Daniel Wright, Bonhams' East Anglian picture specialist said: “Each of the three portraits demonstrates Hambling's unique ability to produce striking work which manages to be both sympathetic and starkly brutal.

“A Suffolk-born artist who is recognised internationally, it is great to be able to sell her work here in her home county.

“We are really pleased with the sale,” he said. “There was a number of people in the room for them.”

Born in Sudbury in 1945, Ms Hambling grew up in Hadleigh where her father Harry worked at the local bank.

It was her mother who largely brought Ms Hambling and her siblings up.

Ms Hambling was the first painter appointed as artist in residence at the National Gallery, and she has become an icon of British art with her critically acclaimed portraits and sometimes controversial sculpture, including Scallop shell on Aldeburgh beach.

Mr Wright said: “Hambling has led a vivid life approaching everything head on. She chose to paint some of her favourite portrait subjects, her lover Henrietta Moraes and her father Harry at their most vulnerable. These pictures of illness, old age and death are extraordinarily brave and powerful.”

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