British artist buys back his own work to give it away
Most of the work came from Haunch of Venison, a gallery founded in 2002 by businessman-turned-art dealer Harry Blain, and former Christie’s art expert Graham Southern. In 2007, Christie’s bought Haunch of Venison to boost its private sales of contemporary art, but five years later closed it. Coventry believes his work has been preserved by Christie’s since then.
As the artist explains, they were originally part of a series of 42 works entitled “Echoes of Albany”, referring to the remarkable apartments and gardens of Albany near the Royal Academy where politicians such that William Gladstone and Edward Heath, literary figures Lord Byron and JB Priestley and artists such as photographer Anthony Armstrong-Jones and Coventry himself live since they were built for singles in the late 18th century.
For this series, he adopted the distinctive late style of the great British artist Walter Sickert, who emerged from post-impressionism using photography to capture images like stills from painterly films. The series was first exhibited at the Coventry retrospective in 2006 at the Tramway Gallery in Glasgow, courtesy of Haunch of Venison, and was, he said, to be kept intact. But the gallery has sold many pieces.
Coventry has kept 14 of them, and since selling well at Pace, he has attempted to buy back copies to bring them together. In line with the rest of the auction, estimates at Bellmans were set too low to encourage bidding. Albany’s photos of Coventry were valued at just Â£ 500 each and with virtually no publicity before the sale he was able to buy back his seven works against little competition for a cumulative amount of Â£ 7,000, not including the commission from the auctioneer.
The museum‘s lucky grantee has yet to be agreed, but likely nominees include the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool, the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Pallant House Gallery in Chichester, all of which held Sickert exhibitions last year. .