Home Forums Thanatos Austin Osman Spare AOS Book of Satyrs – Auction at Christies

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    Sale of item today by auction at Christies – fetched £13,750 against an estimate of £2,000 to £3,000.

    Lot Description
    Austin Osman Spare (1886-1956)
    A Book of Satyrs: Introduction
    signed with monogram and dated ‘06’ (lower left)
    ink, wash and gouache
    15 x 10½ in. (38 x 26.7 cm.)
    Special Notice
    Artist’s Resale Right (“Droit de Suite”). If the Artist’s Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer also agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist’s collection agent.

    Pre-Lot Text
    A Book of Satyrs by Austin Osman Spare

    Influenced by symbolism and the decadence of art nouveau, Austin Osman Spare became known for his clear use of line and for his inventive faculty in depicting lingering imagery of the grotesque, mystical, and sexual. The following thirteen drawings (lots 63-75) are the original and complete set of illustrations for Spare’s second book of drawings, A Book of Satyrs, first published in 1907 in an edition of only 300 copies. In the introduction to A Book of Satyrs James Guthrie writes:

    ‘Spare continually achieves the unexpected; his pattern is always original; his characteristic line is of fine nervous quality; his types are powerfully visualised. The very subtle irony of his temper is apparent in a hundred whimsical ways – in attitudes, gestures, expressions – too delicate to be more than contributory to the whole impression. This appropriate irony especially fits Spare for satire, and it is here [in A Book of Satyrs] to be seen and felt, for it can neither be disregarded nor forgotten – which words it is well to be able to write of one satirist in our day of curbed enthusiasm and polite art’ (sited in A.R. Naylor (ed.), From the Inferno to Zos: The Writings and Images of Austin Osman Spare, vol. I, Seattle, 1993).




    Sale of item today by auction at Christies – fetched £13,750 against an estimate of £2,000 to £3,000.

    Actually that’s nothing – a small set of drawings went for £30,000 and another of the drawings went for around £27,000.

    Although, I think it less a reflection on the value of the art, more a reflection of the falling value of the £, $ and Euro.


    Michael Staley

    I was there in the auction room, and know in whose collections many of the pictures went. These people bought the artwork because they rated it highly and they wanted to acquire it – nothing to do with fluctuating exchange rates. Had I the means, I would have joined the bidding myself. Seeing this collection of pictures on view at Christies was a real delight.

    Over the years I have been fortunate enough to have acquired some Spares myself, sometimes at a high price. At no time were exchange rate fluctuations a consideration for me.



    At no time were exchange rate fluctuations a consideration for me.

    Ah, but I’m not talking about exchange rates – I’m talking about general inflation. Never the less, the illustrations were from what is probably Spare’s best period. For me, the later works don’t really compare.

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