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Never before seen works of George Owen Wynne Apperley to be auctioned


Never before seen works of George Owen Wynne Apperley to be auctioned

Dreweatts Auctioneers takes on a Spanish flavour this month with fourteen never-before-seen works from one of the most popular Anglo-Spanish artists of the early 20th century, George Owen Wynne Apperley (1884-1960).

Famed for being one of the greatest of the late Romantic artists, Apperley’s passion for Spain was captured in a trip there in 1914. Such was his love of the country that he returned to live there a few years later, abandoning his British wife, Hilda Pope and their children.

He settled in the Albaicín district of Granada and soon became friends with many of the artists and creatives in the city. He created a studio from which many of his works were created, often sent back to London and across Europe and beyond for one-man exhibitions at London galleries, including The Leicester Gallery in 1908 and 1910. He also exhibited at the Royal Scottish Academy, the Paris Salon (1913) and at the Venice Biennial in 1912 and 1914, where he was one of several artists representing Great Britain.

Having moved from classical subjects and mythology his focus switched to portraiture in Spain and the Mediterranean light of southern Europe characterised his work. His studio hummed with life as a constant stream of gypsy singers, dancers, guitarists and vagrants came and went and it was this rich diversity that gave his paintings an authentic reflection of Granada and its people. Apperley was feted by Spanish high society and the visitors book for his studio was also filled with the names of European Royalty.

Commenting on the works, Brandon Lindberg, Head of Dreweatts Old Master, British & European Art department:

“It has been a privilege to work with the artist’s family and select this group of work from his studio. We have chosen pictures that reflected his talent and the richness and diversity of his subject matter”

His landscapes, gypsies and mythological subjects proved popular and by 1918 a large exhibition of his work in Madrid was visited by King Alfonso XIII and Queen Victoria Eugenia. Granada embraced him as one of their own and christened him `The Englishman from the Albaicin’.

Sadly he was compelled to leave his beloved Spain in 1932 when his conservative political position regarding the Second Spanish Republic led to an attack on his home. Amidst the political turmoil he decided to move with his second family, his muse and later wife, Enriqueta Contreras and their two sons to Tangier, Morocco. However, he missed Spain so much that he regularly returned to his studio in Granada to paint.

He died in Tangier in 1960, with his obituary in Spain reading: ‘Apperley’s pictures will, in their own right, finally and deservedly justify the acclaim they received years ago. In the long term, the real human values attached to works of art remain untouched by academic debate’. He is commemorated in Granada by a statue, unveiled in Placeta de la Calle Gloria in 2011 and his works are in many museum collections around the world including the Victoria & Albert Museum, London and the Museo de Málaga in Spain.

Among the works on offer, which range in estimate from £300-£1,500 is a striking oil on canvas titled Moreno De Granada which captures one of the many traditional flamboyant Spanish characters that surrounded Apperley. It carries an estimate of £1,000-1,500 (lot 215). Another, also in rich oils is Magda featuring a vibrant woman in traditional Spanish attire. It is dated 1942 and is estimated to fetch £700-£1,000 (lot 214).

The paintings will be offered in an auction of Old Master Paintings, British and European Art at Dreweatts on February 21, 2024.

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