28 November 2017

A Seven-Figure Chess Item at Auction

Lurking in the composite image I used for Sotheby's Chess was another item worthy of mention (see 'B5' in that post). It makes the sum paid for A Six-Figure Chess Item at Auction look like chump change.

The item pictured below, 'The Chess Players' by William Roberts, R.A. (1895-1980), was estimated at 300.000 - 500.000 GBP (483.360 - 805.600 USD). That's already the highest amount I've ever seen at auction for anything chess-themed, but it sold for even more: 1.161.250 GBP (1.871.006 USD; 'Hammer Price with Buyer's Premium').

roberts, william the chess play | painting

The description said,

Signed; oil on canvas; 101.5 by 92cm. (40 by 36 in.); executed circa 1929-30.

The 'Catalogue Note' said,

To Roberts, every situation must have seemed to teem with possibilities. People in the street, a park, a yard, or a café, everywhere there were ideas for subjects, and his ability to fix the details he observed in his daily life into his painted compositions must have been the envy of many of his contemporaries. [...]

It continued,

In The Chess Players, we find ourselves witness to just such a moment. In the corner of a room, a chess game is underway. The players are reaching the final stages, and the tension has drawn in the observers who wait, with us, to see the outcome. The board sits at the heart of the composition, the taken pieces littering the table top. Facing us is the man playing black, idly dangling his opponent's just-captured queen from his hand, a taunting gesture towards his foe. [...]

Of the artist, in William Roberts (painter), Wikipedia says,

William Roberts R.A. was a British painter of groups of figures and portraits, and was a war artist in both World War One and World War Two.

A further Wikipedia link explains that 'R.A.' stands for 'Royal Academician', a member of the Royal Academy of Arts. Digging a little deeper into 'Royal Academy', I might have tapped into another important source of caissart.

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