Banksy - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Thursday, March 2, 2023 | Phillips
  • “If you want to survive as a graffiti writer, when you go indoors your only option is to carry on painting over things that don’t belong to you there either.”

    No stranger to staging interventions in public space and sparking debates about its uses and abuses, in 2009 Banksy took this practice indoors for the landmark exhibition Banksy vs The Bristol Museum. Taking over the historical building and its collection, Banksy transformed the space into ‘a menagerie of Unnatural History’, disrupting the curatorial logic of the museum as a way of provoking a conversation around who decides which objects belong in museums and why. Alongside larger installations and sculptural pieces ‘adjusted’ in characteristic Banksy fashion, the exhibition took advantage of its location to place objects from the collection into direct dialogue with examples of Banksy’s Vandalised Oils series, radically extending the underlying premise of this body of work as a witty challenge to the art historical canon and the broader cultural assumptions that it maintains. Loaned by the current owner to the Moca Museum in Barcelona, Home Sweet Home has also been included in some of Banksy’s most notorious exhibitions including his Los Angeles debut, Barely Legal and Banksy vs the Bristol Museum.


    Banksy vs Bristol Museum, 2009


    Graffiti to Gallery and Back Again  


    Littered with stencilled CCTV cameras, rubbish, burnt-out cars, and military helicopters, the broader group of Vandalised Paintings to which the present work belongs made their first appearance alongside some 200 live rats in a disused commercial space in London’s affluent Notting Hill in Banksy’s Crude Oils exhibition. In their own way, these works are highly representative of our contemporary landscape, Home Sweet Home in particular highlighting the gap between certain assumed truths about England and Englishness and the lived realities of environmental damage and the engineering of ‘hostile environments’. A phrase commonly seen embroidered and framed on the walls of our grandparent’s homes and associated with a twee brand of Englishness that reinforces the structures of the home and family in the bourgeois imagination, the words themselves express a sense of pride and gratitude in the order and security of our domestic space.

    “The vandalised paintings reflect life as it is now. We don’t live in a world like Constable’s Haywain anymore and, if you do, there is probably a travellers’ camp on the other side of the hill. The real damage done to our environment is not done by graffiti writers and drunken teenagers, but by big business… exactly the people who put gold-framed pictures of landscapes on their walls and try to tell the rest of us how to behave.”

    Set within a heavy gilt frame evoking museum walls and Old Master paintings, the work is composed of an appropriated canvas featuring a bucolic and typically English landscape complete with a chocolate box cottage and a lilting stone bridge over a gently running stream in a manner that directly references John Constable’s The Hay Wain – a quintessential image of both England and Englishness as it exists in popular imagination. Brightly coloured and richly detailed, the work has something of a Disney idealism to it, further emphasising the gap between fantasy and reality in definitions of England or ‘Home’ today. Unlike some of the Vandalised Oils in which the subversive message is spraypainted over the canvas with the aid of a stencil, Home Sweet Home is a rare example of Banksy’s hand-painted additions, comparable to its sister painting, Exit Through the Gift Shop, which was installed alongside the present work in the Banksy vs Bristol exhibition.


    John Constable, The Hay Wain, 1821, The National Gallery, London. Image: © The National Gallery, London/Scala, Florence

    In its clever combination of humour, appropriation, and the pointed conflation of so-called high and low art forms, Home Sweet Home follows in the disruptive mode of Situationist artists such as Asger Jorn. Appropriating reproductions of well-known paintings and the canvases of amateur artists, Jorn applied thick, gestural marks and compositional additions, altering the meaning communicated by the original work in the process. Following Jorn, Banksy’s recontextualisation of these original canvases serves to emphasise that ‘the meaning of old-fashioned paintings had not yet been exhausted but could be renewed by means of new and unexpected pictorial inserts.’


    Asger Jorn, Hirschbrunft im Wilden Kaiser (Deer in Heat in the Wilder Kaiser), 1960
    Nationalgalerie - Staatliche Museen, Berlin. Image: Scala, Florence/bpk, Bildagentur fuer Kunst, Kultur und Geschichte, Berlin, Artwork: © Donation Jorn, Silkeborg/ DACS 2023

    Finding innovative ways to translate a graffiti sensibility onto canvas, the defaced oil paintings represent a significant moment in the development of Banksy’s practice, and of the scope of his institutional critique. They also shine a light on our definitions of the notion of vandalism itself. Typically defined as a negative and anti-social act, ‘vandalism’ is the catch-all term used to describe the work of graffiti artists and used to punish offenders by law. Embracing these definitions, Banksy’s Home Sweet Home extends the guerrilla tactics that he honed as a street artist, speaking truth to power and asking pointed and pertinent questions about the distinctions between preservation and vandalism, and who, ultimately polices such distinctions.


    Collector’s Digest

    • Coming out of a generation of urban counterculture centred in Bristol in the late 1980s and 90s, Banksy is one of the leading and most provocative street artists of his generation. His stencils are amongst the most instantly recognisable and defining images of contemporary British art, and Banksy was recently voted the nation’s favourite artist in 2019. 

    • The present work connects Banksy’s earliest site-specific stencilled works with his later series of ‘vandalised paintings’ first presented at his 2005 Crude Oils exhibition in London, highlighting the evolution of his practice and the scope of his social critique.

    • The vandalised paintings represent some of Banksy’s most popular works, achieving some of the highest prices for the artist at auction.



    i Banksy, quoted on Chanel 4 News, 13 October 2005  

    ii Gianni Mercurio, ‘I Dissent, Therefore I am’, in Gianna Mercurio, A Visual Protest: The Art of Banksy, London, 2020, p. 13.

    iii Gianni Mercurio, ‘I Dissent, Therefore I am’, in Gianna Mercurio, A Visual Protest: The Art of Banksy, London, 2020, p. 13.

    • Provenance

      Private Collection (acquired directly from the artist)
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      Los Angeles, Barely Legal, 15 - 17 September 2006
      Bristol Museum & Art Gallery, Banksy vs. Bristol Museum, 13 June - 31 August 2009

    • Literature

      Steve Wright and Richard Jones, Banksy's Bristol Home Sweet Home, Bristol, 2016 (partially illustrated, front cover; partially illustrated, title page)

    • Artist Biography


      British • 1975 - N/A

      Anonymous street artist Banksy first turned to graffiti as a miserable fourteen year old disillusioned with school. Inspired by the thriving graffiti community in his home city, Bristol, Banksy's works began appearing on trains and walls in 1993, and by 2001 his blocky, spray-painted works had cropped up all over the United Kingdom. Typically crafting his images with spray paint and cardboard stencils, Banksy is able to achieve a meticulous level of detail. His aesthetic is clean and instantly readable due to his knack for reducing complex political and social statements to simple visual elements.

      His graffiti, paintings and screenprints use whimsy and humour to satirically critique war, capitalism, hypocrisy and greed — with not even the Royal family safe from his anti-establishment wit.

      View More Works


Home Sweet Home

signed and dated 'Bansky 06' on the reverse
Modified oil on canvas, in artist's frame
80 x 110 cm (31 1/2 x 43 1/4 in.)
Executed in 2006, this work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity issued by Pest Control.

Full Cataloguing

£1,500,000 - 2,500,000 ‡♠

Sold for £1,742,000

Contact Specialist

Rosanna Widén
Senior Specialist, Head of Evening Sale
+44 20 7318 4060

Olivia Thornton
Head of 20th Century & Contemporary Art, Europe
+44 20 7318 4099

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London Auction 2 March 2023