Lot #773
Beatles: John Lennon

The outlier of the John Lennon sketch collection—'Lady Flying on a Wire'
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Estimate: $15000+


The outlier of the John Lennon sketch collection—'Lady Flying on a Wire'

Brilliant original ink sketch by John Lennon, unsigned, entitled 'Lady Flying on a Wire,' penned on an off-white 10 x 8 sheet, which depicts a bespectacled figure—looking eerily similar to Lennon himself—with wire strung about their waist, flying through the air with outstretched arms high above rolling country hills, with clouds visible in the distance and a small bird flapping nearby. In fine condition, with some faint creasing.

Accompanied by a letter of provenance from book publisher Tom Maschler, in part: "In 1963 I commissioned a journalist, Michael Braun, to write a book on the Pop scene. One day, he handed me a number of rough drawings and writings, many of them scrawled on the back of hotel note paper. I instantly found the writings and doodles extraordinarily witty and captivating. When I asked who had done them, I could not believe the answer I received—'John Lennon.' When I finally met John a few weeks later he was surprised by my interest in his work and told me that that he had only done it for his amusement I found it difficult to persuade John that I really loved what he had done and that I was convinced he could produce a book I would want to published but in the end he succumbed.

I very much enjoyed working closely with John while he produced the drawings and writings for the critically acclaimed books I published for him In His Own Write (1964) and A Spaniard in the Works (1965). John acknowledged the affection and esteem I had for his work by giving me the raw materials for his books when the projects came to a close. During the fifty years that John's drawings were in my possession I came to cherish them more and more. For me they are as much a part of John as his music. John was a truly remarkable artist. In 2014 to mark the 50th anniversary of the release of John's first book I decided to sell the lion's share of this collection through auction with Sotheby's. I could not however part with this particular drawing 'Lady Flying on a Wire' at that time as I am particularly fond of it.

I think that 'Lady Flying on a Wire' is an exceptionally fine example of John's work. I especially love John's zany style, strong composition and the way that this piece verges on the surreal. I hope that whoever is fortunate to acquire this drawing will enjoy it as much as I have." In His Own Write and A Spaniard in the Works were the only two books by John Lennon published during his lifetime. Filled with short stories and poems, the lot of which were often surreal in nature, the books also allowed Lennon to display his unique assortment of sketches and line-drawings, a talent fostered by countless days on the road and an educational background at the Liverpool College of Art. This exceptional offering, given to the man who helped exhibit his artwork to the masses, may well represent the only original Lennon drawing attainable for public purchase, a distinction that places this item into an arena all its own.

Auction Info

  • Auction Title: Fine Autographs and Artifacts
  • Dates: #583 - Ended May 13, 2020

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