Gigi Richter (born 1922), became the doyenne of picture restorers throughout the 1940s and 1950s and was embedded in artistic circles at the time counting Henry Moore, Stanley Hayter, Augustus John, Babara Hepworth, Roland Penrose and others as her close friends. Ms Richter was famous for her restoration efforts with key works on famous paintings of the period, such as Gwen John’s Young Woman Holding a Black Cat and with several commissions from the Tate Galleries. Gigi Richter came from an artistic family, her father, Georg Martin Richter was a renowned Art Historian and her mother, Amely Richter was a noteworthy ceramicist.

Gigi Richter and Henry Moore became close friends following an initial meeting in 1945, with Richter even renting Moore’s studio at No.7 The Mall, London in 1946 which was previously occupied by Barbara Hepworth and Ben Nicolson. The letters between Ms Richter and Moore which are on offer attest to their close friendship, in one letter, Henry Moore describes his famous 1946 exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art which has been widely cited as the key turning point in Moore’s career. The letter which is dated December 28th, 1946 reads:

“The most fantastic bit of all for me was the ‘preview’ evening of my exhibition – I don’t really know what happened – there were 3000 people there I’m told – all I could see was a dense crowd of folk through which Nelson Rockefeller guided me steadily interrupted only by the continual handshaking of people who came up to me – I could see no work at all – in fact someone said they thought the private view business had been solved for as they came in they saw my name up on a screen and then just people and no work. However I saw it next morning and the museum have really done a very good job, and have presented the exhibition very well indeed – I’m very pleased.”

In other letters, Moore offers Gigi instruction on negotiating a price with Barbara Hepworth for shared shed space, advising, “You will find that B.H knows how to make a good bargain if she thinks you are soft.”  

Also, within the collection are three love letters from Stanley William Hayter, who was the most influential printmaker of the first half of the 20th century. Hayter founded the famous Atelier 17 workshop in Paris where some of the biggest names in 20th century art were taught including Pablo Picasso, Max Ernst, Alberto Giacometti, Joan Miro and Jackson Pollock. Dated 1946 the letters are evident of a romantic relationship between the pair. One includes a poem which reads:

“Loves apples yielding their scent/And the fruitage of all my charms/Choice fruit old and new/I have kept them my darling for you…/Wear me as a seal close to your heart/Wear me like a ring upon your hand/For love is strong as death itself,/And passion masters like the grave/Its flashes burn like flame/True lightening flashes/No floods can ever quench this love/No rivers drown it/If a man all he has for love/He would be laughed aside.”

Before the letter is signed off ‘So, au-revoir, I shall ring you from up North; don’t expect anything, it is better that way, but I shall strive desperately hard for us both, and whatever the outcome we can, I believe, still take pleasure in one another and that will indeed be no small comfort.”  In another letter, Hayter describes working with abstract artist Sonia Sekula and also mentions Peggy Guggenheim, dated New York, April 23rd 1946 it reads:

“Shortly after you left Sonia Sekula came to work at the Atelier-once but by the time about half a dozen of the chaps arrived she got scared (or pretended to) and left --- she hasn’t been back to work since --- I don’t know what this calls for but I am too busy to try and cope with her. She is to show with Peggy Guggenheim whose scandalous book turned out to be less so than one expected --- fortunately any stories I should have objected to were killed before publication.”

These letters have estimates of £3000 – £5000

Brett Tryner, Director, Cheffins said: “Gigi Richter was at the centre of artistic circles throughout the 1940s and 50s and this is the first time that this important collection is coming to the open market. There are twelve letters between Henry Moore and Gigi Richter on offer in the sale and these are not only of academic interest but are also testament to the growing bond shared between the pair, whilst the letters with Stanley William Hayter appear to be evidence of a romantic relationship. These letters offer an insight into the personalities of some of the most preeminent artists of the time and are bound to be of great interest to both institutions and collectors from across the globe.”

Also, amongst the collection is an original Henry Moore drawing for ‘Designs For Sculpture’, estimated at £5000 – £6000 and a painting by Wilfredo Lam which has an estimate of £7,000 - £10,000.

Gigi married New Yorker David ‘Buzzy’ Crompton in 1949 and took up residence in Thriplow Cambridgeshire on the estate of Buzzy’s sister, Lady Catherine Walston, where she went on to become a botanist, authoring a number of academic papers on East Anglian sites of botanical interest. Gigi Richter owned a number of important paintings in her lifetime and sold Roland Penrose’s Le Grand Jour to the Tate Gallery in 1964, and gifted Paul Klee’s gouache Gartenkunst to the Fitzwilliam Museum in 2016. She went on to live in Swaffham Bulbeck, Cambridgeshire, and passed away aged 97 in 2020.


Auction: The Art & Design Sale, 17th September 2020 
Location: Cheffins, Clifton House, 1-2 Clifton Road, Cambridge, UK, CB1 7EA

For further information contact the Fine Art Department on 01223 213343,