Barry Flanagan’s Thinker on a Rock beats estimate

Barry Flanagan’s Thinker on a Rock (1996) sold for £848,750 ($1m) in a sale of modern and post-war British art at Sotheby’s London yesterday evening.

The lot is an artist’s proof from the original edition of eight (plus two artist’s proofs).

Barry Flanagan Thinker

Barry Flanagan used a hare motif in most of his work

It beat its estimate of £500,000 ($634,250) by an impressive 69.7%.

The piece is a riff on Rodin’s The Thinker, replacing the human figure in the original with a hare.

Flanagan (1941-2009) began using the hare as a motif after reading George Ewart Evans’ The Leaping Hare (1972), an anthropological study that examined the animal’s place in British folklore.

Flanagan explained in a 2006 interview: “I find that the hare is a rich and expressive form that can carry the conventions of the cartoon and the attributes of the human into the animal world.

“So I use the hare as a vehicle to entertain.

“I abstract from the human figure, choosing the hare to behave as a human occasionally”.

Another edition of this sculpture is installed at the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden in Washington, DC.

William Roberts’ The Tea Garden (1928) achieved an identical figure of £848,750 ($1m) against a £350,000 ($443,975) estimate.

William Roberts Tea

William Roberts had a uniquely British take on modernism 

Roberts was a key member of the vorticist movement: the British take on futurism (an Italian offshoot of cubism).

Like several other vorticists, Roberts was commissioned as an artist during the first world war. The experience would dramatically alter his output.  

The present lot is from a series of works painted in between the world wars that examine the rituals of English life.  

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