Rare Syd Barrett painting sells at auction
Written by Matt   
Saturday, 29 May 2021

Roger Barrett - Orange Dahlias In A Vase, 1961A couple of weeks ago, we told you about a very rare Syd Barrett painting that was coming up for auction.

The painting, titled Orange Dahlias In A Vase, 1961 and signed R. Barrett (Roger being Syd's real first name), which was in the possession of childhood friend Phil Harden, had no problems finding a buyer on May 27th. The Cambridge based Cheffins auction house, who sold the contents of Syd Barrett's home in St Margaret's Square, Cambridge, where he had lived since 1981, after his death in 2006, were running the auction for this incredible piece.

The artwork was created by Barrett when he was just 15 years of age, and was a mix of watercolours and pastels. The auction house explained the provenance: "In 1957, Barrett began his secondary education at Cambridgeshire High School for Boys, which aimed to emulate the public-school model. As a student, Barrett was emphatically average and, to most of his teachers, remarkable only in his inability to follow the rules. To Gerald Arthur Clement Harden, the school's art teacher between 1938 and 1971, however, Barrett was a conspicuous and prodigious talent and one of the very few pupils permitted to use Harden's oil paints.

"Painted when Barrett was just 15 years old, the present lot was gifted to Harden by the artist shortly before he left the school and began studying art at Cambridgeshire College of Arts and Technology. Although generally perceived as an unmotivated student by most of his tutors, Harden’s support encouraged Barrett to pursue further study in painting and ignited in him a passion for art that would continue to burn until his death in 2006."

There were nine later Barrett artworks sold in the previous Cheffins auction, raising £121,000 to fund local art training. The estimated selling price for this newly revealed artwork was between £3,000 - £5,000 plus buyer's fees.

As we suspected this was a VERY conservative figure. The final hammer price was a lot higher: £22,000, plus a "buyers premium" payable to the auction house of 29.4%, giving a total paid by (we understand) an Italian of what we work out to be around £28,468, plus the cost of getting it back to Italy.