Winter 2023

Art & Auctions
Olivier’s Offer

The largest collection of works to ever come onto the market by celebrated artist Herbert Olivier (1861-1952) will be offered by Dreweatts auctioneers this March.

While his works can be found in museums and major collections around the world, these 39 lots come from the artist’s home in Airlie Gardens, Holland Park, London, where his great grandson James Larsson says they have adorned the walls for over 100 years.

Royal Academy-trained Herbert Olivier was a portrait, allegorical and landscape painter, as well as being appointed an official war artist.

He was well-known for his portraits of Royalty (George V) and aristocracy, as well as his grand-scale allegorical works. He favoured painting en plein air and had a passion for capturing the natural landscape around him. Well-travelled, visiting far-flung destinations such as India with the Duke and Duchess of Connaught (and teaching art at the Bombay School of Art), he was able to capture the spirit of both the people he encountered and the environment around him with great flourish.

While some of the works coming to auction were loaned to important exhibitions over the years, the majority have never been seen outside of the Olivier family home, adding to the excitement of them being unveiled and available to the public for the first time. The paintings will be offered in an auction of Old Master Paintings, British and European Art at Dreweatts on March 2.

Within the collection are portraits of family members and friends of the Olivier family, thereby offering a rare insight into the personal side of the artist’s life. Other works depict his passion for the landscape and flora and fauna in the gardens of the family villa La Mortola on the Italian Riviera, next to the famous botanical gardens of the same name.

Commenting on the collection, Brandon Lindberg, Head of Dreweatts Old Master, British & European Art department, said: “These light-filled works are truly captivating and it is rare to find a collection of works by an artist of this importance that has never been on the market before.”

Highlights include an oil work titled The Garlands of Love which hung in pride of place in the Olivier’s drawing room at Airlie Gardens for over a century.

Olivier included a verse of his own creation as a subtitle for the picture, reassuring us that love will protect us from pain. It carries an estimate of £70,000 - £100,000 ($83,861 - $119,801).

An impressive work titled Venus and Adonis features Herbert Olivier’s brother, Gerard Olivier (1869-1939), father of award-winning actor, Sir Laurence Olivier (1907-1989). The oil work portrays the artist’s version of the last meeting of the goddess Venus and her mortal lover Adonis, from Book X of Ovid’s Metamorphoses. The work has an estimate of £30,000-£50,000.

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