Marxist art historian's archives sell for £6k

The private papers of leading Marxist art historian, Francis Klingender went to auction at Bonhams Printed Books and Maps sale in Oxford, on Tuesday (February 23).

Klingender, an avowed Communist, was kept under security surveillance from the early-1930s onwards as a result of many of the writings included in the sale.

Nevertheless, Anthony Blunt, a fellow communist and Soviet spy, concluded that Klingender's beliefs were essentially intellectual and that he was "quite confident that he would not do anything disloyal to this country."

Klingender's archive provides a fascinating insight into his personal and academic life. Works for sale included Klingender's reflections on the German Invasion of Russia and consequent alliance with Great Britain, which brought joy to the Left at the time.


Frances Klingender, photographed surrounded by artworks in his study

This is expressed in two 1942 publications, Russia—Britain's Ally, 1812-1942, a study of caricature from Napoleon to Hitler, as well as Marxism and Modern Art, which was a fashionable text at the time.

Other manuscripts include family papers from Klingender's childhood in Germany and a collection of over 70 political cartoons by, among others, Gilray and Hogarth. The latter formed the basis of his book, Hogarth and the English Caricature, published in 1944.

In 1948, Klingender donated his important collection of caricatures to the British Museum.

"Klingender was a significant figure in art history at a time when intellectual and cultural debate had a much greater influence on wider political thinking than it does now," said David Park, Bonhams Head of Books, Maps and Manuscripts, prior to the sale.

The collection sold for a final hammer price of �6,000 to one lucky buyer - now the owner of a collection whose historical significance and unique insight will become more valued over time.

 

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