Howard Hodgkin’s vast private art collection to be auctioned

Eclectic treasures from his Bloomsbury home

Hundreds of pieces from painter Howard Hodgkin’s Bloomsbury home are set to be sold – everything from textiles and tiles to flags and fragments of antiques.

The British artist, who died in March this year, spent decades amassing an eclectic range of objects, many of which he used as a reference point for his own work. Sotheby’s will auction 400 items on 24 October, ranging from Ottoman tiles that date back to the 1600s, to drawings by some of his own heroes such as William Blake and William Hogarth.

Also included is Patrick Caulfield’s 1966 Sweet Bowl still life, Bhupen Khakhar’s 1972 De-Luxe Tailors painting, and a piece from the much sought after 17th-century Von Hirsch carpet.

Hodgkin described himself as a ‘registered sufferer’ when it came to collecting works of art, although that didn’t always extend to his own paintings.

‘I have absolutely no desire to collect my own work, but do have what with age seems an almost unquenchable thirst for acquiring other things to look at,’ he said. ‘I think of collecting as a sort of virus really, and I was infected… It is an addiction.’

Hodgkin’s studio. Photography: Sotheby’s

Hodgkin acquired items from around the world, often showing objects from different periods and places alongside one another in his brightly coloured Bloomsbury dwelling. Kitchen china was set alongside a 17th-century Indian sandstone relief in the artist’s home, while rooms were filled with intricately patterned carpets and inlaid boxes. Hodgkin was particularly interested in collecting fragments of pieces – including textiles, rugs and calligraphy.

He also collected several objects relating to palm trees and elephants, as well as flags – some of which Hodgkin included in his own paintings.

Howard Hogkin's studio
Hodgkin’s studio, featuring one of sixteen flags, (estimate: £400 – 600 for 16) on an armchair in the manner of Howard & Sons, circa 19th-century, (estimate: £1000-1,500). (c) Sotheby’s

His collection was so extensive that many objects were stored in a basement, which held prints, paintings, books and furniture that he used as a reference library.

According to his partner Antony Peattie – who he was with for 33 years – Hodgkin supported the idea of a sale after his death.

‘The objects have served their purpose to him, they were what he called his “Must Haves” that, in some mysterious way fed his work,’ he said. ‘The sale represents a personal portrait of Howard.’

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