Walter Crane drawings go under the hammer


A set of 38 witty signed and dated pen and ink drawings by one of the most prolific English artists and Children’s book illustrators of his generation, Walter Crane (1845-1915), will be offered in Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions’ sale of Watercolours, Drawing and Prints on Wednesday 12th February.

The informal sketchbook contains scenes from two family holidays in St Pierre en Port, in 1904, and at Brundish, in Suffolk, in 1905 of picnics, days at the seaside and nights at the casino, tennis matches and concerts.

As part of the Arts and Crafts movement, and founder of The Arts & Crafts Exhibition Society, Crane was influenced by William Morris throughout much of his early life. During this time Crane was allied with the British socialist movement and his focus on design for textiles, wallpaper and home decoration reportedly did as much as Morris himself did to bring art in to the daily lives of people across the social spectrum.

In 1894, Crane famously collaborated with William Morris on the page decoration of Morris’s fantasy novel The Story of the Glittering Plain. The sketchbook is estimated to sell for £2,000 – 3,000.

From the collection of a friend and patron of William Morris, and Arts and Crafts enthusiast, Lawrence W Hodson, are two sets of drawings by the artist Hasegawa Settan (1778-1843) and his studio.

The wealthy West Midlands brewery owner compiled his extensive and eclectic collection to refurbish his family home, Compton Hall, Wolverhampton in 1895. The two sets, depicting narrative scenes, figures and natural history subjects are all inscribed LW Hodson in pencil on verso. The majority of the Hodson Collection was sold for a total of £1.3 million in three auctions during 2013 by Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions.

Hasegawa Settan trained under the great master of ukiyo-e, Utagawa Toyokuni, and became a highly respected woodblock printmaker, being awarded the honorary Buddhist title of Hokkyo, meaning ‘bridge of the law’. The two groups of drawings appear to have been reference drawings from the artist and his son’s studio. They are estimated to sell for £2,000 – 3,000 and £1,000 – 1,500.

A signed watercolour and gouache painting by Sir Jacob Epstein (1880-1959) is rare piece by a man better known as a controversial artist and pioneer of modern sculpture. The painting, entitled Flower study in red and yellow, may well have been part of Epstein’s 1930s series of landscape and flower studies in which he returned to a more conventional style than he is commonly known for. It is reported that in the summer of 1933 Epstein produced nearly 100 watercolours, whilst staying in a rented property close to Epping Forest in Essex. The watercolours were exhibited in London at Arthur Tooth & Son in December in 1933. It is estimated to sell for £1,500 – 2,000.