Despite his career spanning decades, and offering years of illustrative joy to viewers, Quentin Blake is still continuously producing artworks. “There are very few days of the year on which I don’t produce drawings,” he says. “In addition to originals for publication, there are alternative versions, sequences of drawings exploring themes that appeal to me, experiments with unfamiliar implements and sometimes a drawing simply because I feel the need to.” Although many of these iterations are rarely seen, Christie’s Classic Week presents 200 drawings by Blake – launching this week (on 25 November), open for browsing and purchase too.
An exhibition doubling as an auction, Quentin Blake: 200 Drawings features a range of sketches by the artist, offered to Christie’s from Blake’s studio. Far ranging in their estimates, the pieces featured are estimably priced between £100 to £2000, each sold to benefit the London gallery, House of Illustration, “the UK’s only gallery and education space dedicated to illustration and graphics,” explains Christie’s in a statement. The proceeds raised will support House of Illustration, also a recognised charity, in ongoing projects including the redevelopment of New River Head London and its renaming as the Quentin Blake Centre for Illustration.
Arranged to open in 2022, the centre will then be the world’s largest public arts space dedicated to illustration. Described as “a new cultural landmark for the UK” which will additionally become a permanent home of Blake’s archive, featuring more than 4000 works on permanent display.
“Christie’s auction means for me, delightfully, that all kinds of people actually get to take these drawings home to look at. That is a pleasure enormously enhanced for me by the knowledge that their money contributes to the development of the Quentin Blake Centre for Illustration,” adds the artist.
A preview of the artworks available in the auction is available to browse below, and the sale will open from 2 – 16 December.