A rare original painting by Cambridge resident and founder of Pink Floyd, Roger ‘Syd’ Barrett, was sold at the Cheffins Art & Design Sale on 27th May for £28,270. With an estimate of £3,000 - £5,000, the picture was sold to a collector from Italy who was bidding online.  

Titled ‘Orange Dahlias in a Vase,’ the watercolour and pastel picture was sold on behalf of the family of Barrett’s school art teacher, Gerald Harden. Signed ‘R. Barrett. / Oct. 1961’, the picture was completed when he was 15 years old.

Syd Barrett began his secondary education at Cambridgeshire High School for Boys in 1956, where he was taught art by Gerald Arthur Clement Harden to whom he gifted this painting before he left the school to study art at Cambridgeshire College of Arts and Technology. He went on to enrol at Camberwell Art School in 1964 where he proved to be a talented artist, before joining the band which would later become known as Pink Floyd in 1965. After leaving Pink Floyd, Syd Barrett returned to Cambridge in 1975, where he lived a solitary life and returned to concentrating on his artwork.

Following his death in 2006, Cheffins sold the contents of Barrett’s home in Cambridge at no.6 St Margaret’s Square, where he had lived since 1981.

Philip Harden, Gerald Harden’s son and the seller of the picture, says: “We couldn’t be more thrilled with this result. The picture has always been incredibly special to me and has an energy to it which is quite unlike anything else. I am sure that Roger would be completely amazed if he knew a picture from his schooldays could have made this type of money. He was a great friend when we were children, a kind and thoughtful person and I am so pleased that there is a buyer out there who will treasure this picture. Roger was a worldwide phenomenon and he stood for so many things in different people’s minds.”

Brett Tryner, Director at Cheffins says: “As a window into the pre-Pink Floyd days of Syd Barrett, the success of the sale of this picture is a testament to his popularity as one of the greatest icons in the world of rock music. There are few original pictures by Syd Barrett still in existence, especially as during the later years he took to finishing a painting, photographing it and then burning the canvas. This ensured that the picture saw a great deal of pre-sale interest, including almost 30 commission bids ahead of the sale, some from his legions of fans the world over. It is clear from this work that not only was Barrett one of the most talented musicians of our time, but he was also an accomplished artist.”

Nine of Syd Barrett’s later paintings raised £121,000 at the Cheffins auction in 2006, with the proceeds being given to fund art training in Cambridge.

30 artworks by Syd Barrett were exhibited in Cambridge in 2011 as part of The City Wakes, a series of events hosted in the city in tribute to him.

The price reported is the total, inclusive of buyers’ premium (24.5 per cent). 

Auction: The Art & Design Sale – 27th May 2021 from 11am
 Cheffins, Clifton House, 1-2 Clifton Road, Cambridge, UK, CB1 7EA