Richard Hamilton Drawings, Forgotten in an Attic for Decades, Go to Frieze Masters

The ten drawings illustrate the nursery rhyme Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor.

The drawings once decorated a children's nursery. Photo: Alan Cristea Gallery, London/Rita Donagh Hamilton via the Evening Standard

Collectors and institutions will be on high alert after previously unknown and long-forgotten drawings by the celebrated and influential British pop artist Richard Hamilton have gone on public display for the first time at Frieze Masters in London.

The ten unique 30 x 38 centimeter illustrations—which were based on a children’s book for the nursery rhyme Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor—were created by the artist when he was living in London in his twenties.

The Art Newspaper reported that Hamilton made the drawings for his girlfriend and future wife, Terry O’Reilly, to give to her landlord when she was short on cash.

The ten gouaches were pinned to the wall of the landlord’s children’s nursery. When his childhood home was sold, the family’s youngest son kept the drawings in an envelope and stored them in his attic for over 50 years.

The artist used the drawings to pay his girlfriend's rent. Photo: Richard Saker via Phaidon

The artist used the drawings to pay his girlfriend’s rent.
Photo: Richard Saker via Phaidon

Meanwhile, Hamilton went on to become a superstar of the British art scene and enjoyed several successful museum exhibitions, including at London’s ICA last year.

Recognizing Hamilton’s unique artistic style from the media hype surrounding the artist’s retrospective at the Tate Modern in 2014, the homeowner, who wishes to remain unnamed, dug out the drawings and contacted the Tate and art dealer Alan Cristea who represents Hamilton’s estate.

Cristea told the Evening Standard that, since the drawings were kept hidden for the past five decades, his “instinct is to keep them safe until I can reveal them to the public and can set about ensuring they find a home in a museum collection alongside all the other work that they presage.”

However, the works are now for sale at the Alan Cristea Galley’s booth at Frieze Masters, and are reportedly priced between £3,000 and £40,000 ($4,573 and $61,942), so private buyers may also snap up the drawings.


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