We are proud to present to auction The Death of Marat and the Birth of The Lobster, a major painting by the leading contemporary British artist Philip Colbert. All proceeds from the sale will support a scholarship programme at the University of St Andrews, offering financial support to students on its new Museum and Heritage Studies part time course.
Colbert has taken up the legacy of Pop Art with such commitment and relish that he has been referred to as “The Godson of Andy Warhol”. To Colbert, Pop’s lexicon is an egalitarian and highly effective vehicle for distilling and conveying universal symbols with immediacy. It is also an excellent conduit for satire, which Colbert recognises as the most universally effective method of communicating ideas that, in his words, “shake the cage”. His take on Pop is nevertheless hugely original and feels fresh and accessible. His highly saturated, airbrushed finish eliminates any trace of the artist’s hand in favour of an aesthetic that cleverly makes us second guess whether it is digitally generated. His work is also replete with art historical reference points, inverting and toying with his audience’s perception of Pop’s throwaway or disposable imagery.
Colbert is also frequently described as a ‘Neo-Surrealist’ and The Lobster, his muse and alter-ego, is inherently steeped in the legacy of Salvador Dali, a forebear who also found himself drawn to the alien and absurd qualities of this extraordinary creature. As ever with Colbert however, the meaning is many layered. His adoption of the lobster speaks also to a fascination with its earlier symbolism within Dutch still life as a metaphor for mortality. Lobsters have been known to live for hundreds of years, and Colbert seeks to harness the lobster’s history as a cipher for humanity’s wrestle with our transience in this world.
The Death of Marat and the Birth of The Lobster was the centrepiece of Colbert’s eponymous exhibition in 2021 which marked the re-opening of the Wardlaw Museum after its redevelopment. Prior to establishing himself as a highly successful visual artist, Colbert graduated from St. Andrews in Philosophy. During his studies he also undertook classes in Art History, and it was here that the artist encountered David’s famous painting The Death of Marat, sparking several important connections for the artist.
Jean-Paul Marat, the famous French revolutionary, also graduated from St Andrews, receiving a medical degree in 1775. When the French Revolution began in 1789, he led a political group called the Jacobins, who wanted to depose the monarchy and form a republic. Charlotte Corday was also a revolutionary but sought political ends with less slaughter. She despised Marat for executing thousands of people. In 1793 she murdered him in his bath. David, a friend of Marat’s, created his famous painting the same year.
In this work we find not a dead Marat, but a relaxed lobster scrolling through his smart phone in the bath. The lobster wears pyjamas patterned with fried eggs, yet another symbol of Colbert’s, who used to make his own clothing. Colbert is drawn visually to the egg as a wonderfully pared back, almost modernist form (a “mini-Mondrian”, as the artist would have it), but also as an historic symbol of life and re-birth.
This work can be described as a distillation of formative experiences and themes that shaped Colbert’s artistic development, the trigger points of his extraordinarily imaginative creative world. Combined with it having been central to a major exhibition and now sold as an altruistic endeavour, it would not be an exaggeration to describe this as an important painting in the artist’s oeuvre, and a rare and exciting opportunity for collectors of his work.
Lyon & Turnbull are delighted to offer Modern and Contemporary editioned prints and multiples within our Contemporary & Post-War Art // Prints & Multiples and MODERN MADE auctions.
An exciting and developing area of the market, Prints & Multiples are popular with new and seasoned collectors alike.
At Lyon & Turnbull, we handle prints from a wide variety of artists: from 20th century masters Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali and Joan Miro through to the British canon of printmakers including Dame Laura Knight, L.S. Lowry, Edward Bawden, all the way to David Hockney and Howard Hodgkin. Our auctions encompass printmaking created up to and including the present day, with artists currently working in these mediums, such as Tracey Emin, David Shrigley, Banksy and the Connor Brothers.
Characterised by competitive bidding, strong results and a high selling rate, our Contemporary & Post-War Art sales are among our most popular auctions. Held three times a year in our Scottish saleroom, highlights are also regularly exhibited in our London gallery. Our strong private client base and excellent international marketing reach has seen these sales grow into flagships of our company.
Encompassing works by both emerging and internationally regarded contemporary artists and sculptors, we have achieved top prices for household names including John Hoyland (a world record), Bridget Riley, Eduardo Paolozzi (a world record for a sculpture), Terry Frost, Nicholas Party, Alison Watt and Callum Innes. Regularly featured local favourites include John Bellany and the ‘New Glasgow Boys’ Peter Howson, Ken Currie, Steven Campbell, as well as John Byrne and Alasdair Gray.
CHARLOTTE RIORDAN | HEAD OF CONTEMPORARY & POST-WAR ART
0131 557 8844
CARLY SHEARER | HEAD OF PRINTS & MULTIPLES
0131 557 8844