Sketch of Ted Hughes by Sylvia Plath sold at auction

Sylvia Plath. Ted Hughes. 1597. Sold for £27,600 (including premium)

A rare sketch of the renowned English poet Ted Hughes, drawn by his wife Sylvia Plath in 1957, has been bought by the National Portrait Gallery at Bonhams London. Sketched in the first year of their tempestuous marriage, the drawing was her only known portrait of Hughes and fetched £27,600 (including premium) at the Bonhams auction on October 3. It was one of more than 300 portraits belonging to collector Roy Davids. Hughes burned many of his papers before his death in 1998 but gave the sketch to Davids, a lifelong friend.

According to Paul Moorhouse, curator of the gallery’s XX century collection this «intimate portrait is a marvelous evocation of a major poet and of a fascinating literary relationship».
The sketch will be exhibited alongside portraits of other XX century British poets including Philip Larkin, Thomas Sterns Eliot and Dylan Thomas. The portrait, taken from Plath’s notebook, is on faintly lined paper and bears the inscription: «Portrait of me, made by Sylvia Plath, circa 1957, Ted Hughes».

Hughes and Plath met at Cambridge and were married in 1956. But their relationship was tested by his extra-marital affairs and her history of mental illness. Plath eventually committed suicide in 1963 shortly after the publication of her novel «The Bell Jar». Compiled over 30 years, Davids’ extensive private collection contains almost 300 portraits of writers, artists, musicians and philosophers. Other subjects include William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, Lord Byron and the artist L. Lowry.

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Published in: on October 10, 2005 at 5:35 am  Leave a Comment  

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