From the Private Collection of Peter Adam

From the Private Collection of Peter Adam

Peter Adam’s contribution to British art and culture is demonstrated in a collection Chiswick Auctions are offering as part of the July 4 sale of Modern British & Irish Art.



 Source: The Guardian. Photograph: Robert McNab


Adam, who grew up in 1930s Berlin, was best known for his 22 years as a film maker with the BBC where he was the editor of the arts programmes Arena and Review. He was described by Sir David Attenborough as “one of the key figures who helped to establish the character of BBC Two during its golden age.”

The works offered at Chiswick sum up perfectly Adam’s interest and involvement in the Modern British art scene during the second half of the 20th century. The collection as a whole contains works by groundbreaking Modern British artists, including Wyndham Lewis, joint founder of arguably one of Britian’s most radical movements in Vorticism, to Keith Vaughan and Prunella Clough, both of whom were close friends of Adam.

The first work offered, Wyndham Lewis’s Portrait of a Lady with a French Poodle is the earliest within the collection. We do not know the identity of the sitter in this watercolour, however there is a good chance it could be the Irish architect and designer Eileen Gray, as Peter Adam wrote her biography.

Lot 28 - Wyndham Lewis (British, 1882 - 1957), Portrait of a Lady with a French Poodle, Property from the collection of the late Peter Adam
Estimate £15,000 - £18,000


This work was a personal gift from Wyndham Lewis to Gray who he had met at the Slade Art School in 1902. The painting later passed to Gray’s niece, the artist Prunella Clough, and she in turn gave it to Adam. It hung on the bedroom wall of his Paris apartment, a tribute to its significance within his collection.  



Lot 33 - Prunella Clough (British 1919-1999), Woman Winding Machine, Property from the collection of the late Peter Adam
Estimate £30,000 - £50,000  


Prunella Clough’s works also held pride of place within Adam’s collection. She gave him several paintings including Woman Minding Machine from 1952. It’s a fine example of Clough’s industrial paintings that documented factory life following the war. In her own words, she captured, ‘people in ways that had never been realised pictorially (…) industrial products as part of an industrial landscape’. In this particular painting, the woman turns away from the viewer. We see her profile, disengaged and focused only on the task of ‘minding’ the machine.

The collection also includes works by the artist Keith Vaughan. Adam was not just a close friend but his executor, biographer and the curator of multiple exhibitions of his work after he died in 1977.




 Lot 34 - Keith Vaughan (British, 1912 - 1977), Ischia Cheese & Grill sketchbook, accompanied by three letters written from the artist to Peter Adam
Estimate £5,000 - £7,000


Three letters sent to Adam, by Vaughan, capture the blossoming friendship. In the first letter, Vaughan remarks, ‘P.S You never told me you were a Doctor!’. In the third, by some contrast, he writes four years later, ‘My Dear Klauss P’ and signs off, ‘Let’s meet soon, Love Keith’.

The collection also includes a 27-page sketch book from 1962 estimated at £5,000-7,000. Together the drawings record of Vaughan’s experimentalism with landscape, abstraction and his commitment to the human form.

Leading the group at £30,000-£50,000 is an oil painting titled Two Figures with a Snake that has been exhibited on a number of occasions including at the Tib Lane Gallery, Manchester in 1976 and in 2007 at the Victoria Art Gallery in Bath.


Lot 32- Keith Vaughan (British, 1912 - 1977), Two Figues with a Snake, Property from the collection of the late Peter Adam
Estimate £30,000 - £50,000


 Lot 28-36 of our upcoming Modern British & Irish Art sale are from the property of the collection of the late Peter Adam and comprise of other works by Keith Vaughan, Wyndham Lewis, Prunella Clough and Elsbeth Juda. Explore the full catalogue online.