'Painting was gentler on her arthritis-stricken hands than needlework...'

Following the Bonhams' sale in June where a picture by Helen Bradley was sold at a World Record price, three pictures by the artist will be offered in Bonhams' 20th Century British Art Sale in London on November 17.

Born in 1900 in Lancashire, Helen Bradley was always interested in art, but it wasn't until she was in her sixties, and her grandchildren were asking what life was like when she was a child, that she started painting the scenes she remembered of her own Edwardian childhood.

The scenes she depicted not only delighted her grandchildren, but subsequently earned her worldwide popularity as an artist.

In 1971 Jonathan Cape published the first of four books by Helen Bradley including "And Miss Carter Wore Pink", which was an instant success. German, French, Dutch and Japanese editions were published, and a special edition produced for the USA.

Helen Bradley's We went to Miss Carter's for tea (£30,000-50,000)

The characters she painted included Miss Carter (who wore Pink), who features in most of her paintings, as well as her mother, grandmother, her three maiden aunts, Mr Taylor (the bank manager), Helen herself with her brother George, and their dogs Gyp and Barney. Many of these figures can be seen in the pictures offered by Bonhams.

The three works offered by Bonhams are fantastic examples of Helen Bradley's unique style and narrative. "We went to Miss Carter's for tea" is estimated to sell for £30,000 - 50,000, "Do you think the Turkey's cooked enough?" is estimated at £25,000 - 35,000 and "Mother said we would walk home through the park" estimated at £20,000 - 30,000".

Sadly Helen Bradley died in 1979 shortly before she was due to be honoured with an MBE from the Queen for services to the arts. And she wasn't the first female painter to take up the craft in heir autumn years...


A century earlier, American painter Grandma Moses (1860-1961) also began painting later in life after finding that it was gentler on her arthritis-stricken hands than needlework. Self-taught, her works became legendary as 'primitive' or folk art.

Moses was eventually discovered by the collector Louis Caldor, while she was bartering paintings at the Women's Exchange during the Great Depression. Thereafter followed a successful exhibition in New York, and later expos in Europe and Japan.

Today, Grandma Moses remains a legend for her depictions of American rural life.


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