Andy Warhol - Evening & Day Editions London Wednesday, January 17, 2024 | Phillips
  • “We were thinking of important Renaissance paintings or details of such.... Ultimately, we suggested four subjects to Andy. He looked at them and without listening to our wordy explanations simply asked 'can't you find more famous paintings?'”
    —Jörg Schellmann 

    From the early 1980s, Andy Warhol turned his attention away from portraying the celebrities of his contemporary society. Instead, he began to focus on celebrities of history - iconic figures and motifs of the past. Despite this shift from popular culture to historical imagery, Warhol nonetheless continued to focus his practice on one central theme: fame.  


    In 1983, the renowned German publisher Jörg Schellmann, together with his business partner Bernd Klüser, suggested to Warhol that he make a portfolio of prints based on Renaissance masterworks. After carefully considering which paintings would be most fitting, Schellmann and Klüser settled on Sandro Botticelli’s Birth of Venus (c. 1485), Leonardo da Vinci’s The Annunciation (1472), Paolo Uccello’s St. George and the Dragon (1472), and Piero della Francesca’s Madonna del Duca da Montedeltro (c.1474). Despite being created five centuries prior, these paintings were pertinent subjects for Warhol due to their status as revered icons of art history. Warhol’s enduring fascination with mass reproduction, iconic imagery, and the allure of celebrity reverberated powerfully within these masterpieces. In transforming them into twentieth-century icons, Warhol amplified their historical significance as they took centre stage in his own Pop renaissance.  


    Paolo Uccello, Saint George and the Dragon, c. 1470, National Gallery, London. Image: © The National Gallery, London/Scala, Florence

    Paolo Uccello's Saint George and the Dragon is a masterpiece that vividly captures the timeless tale of the valiant Saint George slaying the menacing dragon. Created in the 15th century, Uccello's composition skilfully conveys a sense of dynamic movement as Saint George, mounted on his steed, courageously confronts the ferocious dragon. Uccello's meticulous attention to detail, particularly in the intricate armour and the swirling patterns of the dragon's scales, adds a layer of realism to the fantastical scene. By contrast, Warhol rendered the gruseome scene in flat plains of vivid colours. Poignantly, Warhol closely cropped Uccello's painting in a manner similar to how he cropped the original photograph used  for his Marilyn Monroe portraits, accentuating the starlet’s striking facial features. By zooming in on the princess's face and the dragon's wing, Warhol not only firmly reinvented the composition as a Pop masterpiece, but also elucidated the icon-status and cultural prestige of this painting, which is recognisable even from just a small detail.


    Jörg Schellmann and Andy Warhol, Warhol Studio at Broadway/Union Square, New York, 1983. Image: © Schellmann Art

    Warhol made use of his favourite technique, the screenprint, to render the historic Renaissance paintings in bold plains of vibrant colours, overlaid with his signature misaligned outline. Notably, unlike most of Warhol’s screenprints, in Details of Renaissance Painting the margins were not trimmed and instead left as wide plains of exposed paper. This was due to a joint decision between the artist and publishers that the borders were in keeping with the historical imagery, representing a classical passe-poute. A trial proof, the present lot is a unique work that embodies Warhol’s central concerns in his later years - fame, reproduction, icons, and the canon of art history.

    “After a few weeks we received a call from New York: the first proofs were done. How exciting! The rules were that the publisher could choose from the total proofs produced. That was not an easy task as there were so many beautiful and interesting images.”
    —Jörg Schellmann 

    • Provenance

      Personal copy of the publisher and part of the Archive of Edition Schellmann since time of publication

    • Literature

      see Frayda Feldman and Jörg Schellmann 324-327
      Jörg Schellmann, ed., Forty Are Better Than One, Munich/New York, 2009, pp. 348-349
      Jörg Schellmann, ed., Andy Warhol Unique, Munich/New York, 2014, p. 125

    • Artist Biography

      Andy Warhol

      American • 1928 - 1987

      Andy Warhol was the leading exponent of the Pop Art movement in the U.S. in the 1960s. Following an early career as a commercial illustrator, Warhol achieved fame with his revolutionary series of silkscreened prints and paintings of familiar objects, such as Campbell's soup tins, and celebrities, such as Marilyn Monroe. Obsessed with popular culture, celebrity and advertising, Warhol created his slick, seemingly mass-produced images of everyday subject matter from his famed Factory studio in New York City. His use of mechanical methods of reproduction, notably the commercial technique of silk screening, wholly revolutionized art-making.

      Working as an artist, but also director and producer, Warhol produced a number of avant-garde films in addition to managing the experimental rock band The Velvet Underground and founding Interview magazine. A central figure in the New York art scene until his untimely death in 1987, Warhol was notably also a mentor to such artists as Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat.


      View More Works

Works from the Archive of Edition Schellmann to benefit the Ars Publicata Project


Details of Renaissance Paintings (Paolo Uccello, St. George and the Dragon, 1460) (see F. & S. 324-327)

Unique screenprint in colours, on Arches Aquarelle paper, with full margins.
I. 65.2 x 94.5 cm (25 5/8 x 37 1/4 in.)
S. 81.5 x 112.1 cm (32 1/8 x 44 1/8 in.)

Signed and numbered 'TP 16/36' in pencil (a unique colour variant trial proof, the edition was 50 and 12 artist's proofs), published by Edition Schellmann & Klüser, Munich and New York (with their inkstamp on the reverse), unframed.

Full Cataloguing

£15,000 - 20,000 

Sold for £40,640

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Evening & Day Editions

London Auction 17 - 18 January 2024