Join Head of Contemporary & Post-War Art Charlotte Riordan as she discusses Philip Colbert's The Death of Marat and The Birth of The Lobster, a highlight in our 10 August Contemporary & Post-War // Prints & Multiples auction with Alex Hayes, Head of Development for the Arts & Divinity at the University of St. Andrews. Kindly donated by Philip Colbert, all proceeds from the sale will support a scholarship programme at the University of St Andrews.
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 the University of 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.
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.
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.
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