“If you have only one of something, you can’t say it is the best of anything.”
So wrote Harold Pinter in Old Times, and it is a maxim by which the man credited with the playwright’s discovery has amassed his collections over the years.
Sir Michael Codron was the man credited with bringing Harold Pinter to the public’s attention with his 1958 production of The Birthday Party. Now this lion of British theatre is selling his own collection of lions.
Depicted in needlework, pottery, brass and treen, the lions are just one of many diverse collections put together by the theatre producer over a period of some 60 years and range in value from £100 to £5,000.
“Some of the most desirable pieces in the collection are the embroidery panels,” said Works of Art specialist Mark Yuan-Richards, who is selling the lions at Woolley and Wallis Salerooms in Salisbury. “One folk art woolwork embroidery dates from the early 19th century and details a lion prowling through a landscape, while another from the same period shows a lion grappling with a snake.”
Lions have been a common theme in art for centuries, representing strength and (especially in Britain) a regal or majestic animal. Their exoticism and yet feline familiarity made them popular with the British public, leading to their production by 19th century potters and carvers.
Sir Michael started his career in the London theatre in 1956 and has gone on to produce over 200 West End shows by playwrights including Tom Stoppard, David Hare, Alan Ayckbourn and Victoria Wood. In 2010 he received a Laurence Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement, including his discovery of Harold Pinter, and was knighted in 2014 for services to British theatre.
The 88 lots are expected to make in the region of £25,000 when they come under the hammer on 22nd September.