An astonishing art and jewellery collection assembled by acclaimed actress of stage and screen, Lauren Bacall, who died in August 2014 will be previewed in London from 15 – 19 February, before it is auctioned at Bonhams New York on 31 March and 1 April. Highlights of the collection, including works by some of the greatest artists of the 20th century, can be seen at the Bonhams headquarters, 101 New Bond Street. The opening hours are 9am – 4.30pm, and admission is free.
London is one stop on an international tour which takes in Hong Kong, Los Angeles, Paris and New York, and the selection features jewellery, decorative arts, tribal works of art and prints as well as paintings and sculptures. Many of the 750 lots to be auctioned graced three of Bacall’s residences: the Los Angeles house she shared with her first husband, Humphrey Bogart, her country home in Amagansett, New York, and her apartment in New York’s famed The Dakota, overlooking Central Park, which she shared with second husband, Jason Robards until 1969.
Heading the preview are six bronze maquettes by Henry Moore, Britain’s greatest 20th century sculptor and one of Bacall’s favourite artists. Bacall’s deep admiration of Moore began in the 1950s while she was living in Los Angeles. After finally meeting the sculptor at his studio in 1975, she wrote: ‘It was and will be ever a high point of my life ... [it was the] realization of a dream.’
Also included in the highlight exhibition are bronze sculptures by noted American artist, Robert Graham, whose works fascinated Lauren Bacall. She was captivated by the precise realism and bold expression of the female form in Graham’s work and referred to these three sculptures as her “girls”. Robert Graham was married to Bacall’s close friend, Anjelica Huston.
Contemporary and modern prints by David Hockney, Jim Dine, Richard Avedon, Henry Moore and John James Audubon as well as paintings by the legendary Sir Noel Coward, Aaron Shikler, Georges Wakhevitch will also be featured.
Some of the actress’s best loved jewellery pieces, created by designer Jean Schlumberger, will be on display with other items including an 18-carat yellow gold, enamel, cultured pearl, and rose diamond Mogul-inspired camel brooch by British jeweller, Elizabeth Gage. This piece is accompanied by the original drawing and correspondence showing the extent of the collaboration and friendship between the jeweller and the client.
Jon King, Vice President and Director of Business Development at Bonhams, said: ‘Bonhams is delighted to share with the public a rare insight into the world of Lauren Bacall, the accomplished collector. Her collection is a truly a reflection of her extraordinary taste and remarkable life.’
Lauren Bacall was born Betty Joan Perske in Brooklyn in 1924. She attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, alongside Kirk Douglas, and supported herself by working as an usherette and a model. It was her work in modeling which led to her breakthrough: she was spotted by Diana Vreeland, then fashion editor of Harper’s Bazaar. Bacall soon appeared on the cover of Harper's, catching the attention of the celebrated director, Howard Hawks.
Hawks changed Bacall’s name to Lauren and took a change on the inexperienced starlet, casting her in his adaption of Hemingway’s tale, To Have and Have Not. The 19-year-old Bacall was so nervous that her head shook involuntarily, so she tilted her chin down to steady herself, with the result that she looked up from under at the camera. Her unusual style of delivery, combined with the script’s innuendo, was to prove a winning combination.
The public was hooked on the chemistry between Bacall and Bogart, and the studio took advantage, casting them together in Key Largo, The Big Sleep and Dark Passage. The couple married in 1945, had two children, and remained married until Bogart’s death in 1957. Bacall later had a third child with her second husband, Jason Robards.
Bacall also became an accomplished stage actress, receiving great acclaim for her work in Cactus Flower, Applause, and Woman of the Year. She continued acting in movies as well, and appeared in more than 30, including How to Marry a Millionaire and Murder on the Orient Express. The Mirror Has Two Faces (1996) - on which Barbra Streisand was director, producer and star - earned Bacall a Golden Globe Award and an Academy Award nomination. In 2009, Bacall collected an Oscar in recognition of ‘her central place in the golden age of motion pictures.’
Lauren Bacall died in August 2014, aged 89.