Sotheby’s press office provides the background on the Stanley Spencer painting shot through the estimates today:
Sotheby’s in London established a new auction record for a work by Sir Stanley Spencer (in pounds – see note at foot of email), when his Hilda and I at Pond Street sold for £1,430,050 ($2,249,612), far in excess of its pre-sale estimate of £400,000-600,000.
(The previous auction record for Spencer was £1,320,000 ($2,161,454) and this was achieved for his The Crucifixion, which sold at Sotheby’s in London in 1990.**)
Hilda and I at Pond Street, from 1954, was arguably the finest work by the British artist to appear at auction in the last five years. It was offered for sale by The Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, to benefit the Museum’s acquisition fund.
Hilda Carline was perhaps the most important figure in Spencer’s life. They first met in the early 1920s and married in 1925. To Spencer, the relationship with Hilda was miraculous, the intimacy and union of their two beings becoming a source of wonderment. Everything about Hilda fascinated Spencer. However, personal circumstances in Hilda’s family led to her spending long periods of time away from her husband, who – in her absence – befriended Patricia Preece, another artist living in Cookham. Hilda and Spencer later separated and this would become Spencer’s biggest regret and he did everything he could to make up for his actions.