About this lot


§ Roger 'Syd' Barrett (British 1946-2006)
Orange Dahlias in a Vase signed and dated 'R. Barrett / Oct. 1961' (lower left) watercolour and pastel 58 x 44cm

Footnote: Provenance: Gifted by the artist to Gerald Arthur Clement Harden, thence by descent within the family If you were to read his secondary school reports, there would be very little to indicate that Roger ‘Syd’ Barrett would later become one of the most significant and influential cultural figures of the 20th century, both domestically and internationally; an almost mythic figure, Barrett became an emblem of a time, place, and culture, distilled into a single individual. In 1957, Barrett began his secondary education at Cambridgeshire High School for Boys, which aimed to emulate the public-school model. The exclusively male teaching staff shrouded themselves in academic robes and crowned themselves with mortarboards. The school certainly had a profound effect on Barrett’s fellow pupil and later bandmate, Roger Waters, whose lyrics to the band’s 1979 hit, ‘The Happiest Days of Our Lives’, open with: ‘When we grew up and went to school / There were certain teachers who would / Hurt the children in any way they could’ and continues in the rest of the song to reflect upon the contemptuous and often violent treatment of pupils by some of the school’s tutors. 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. Following his death in 2006, Cheffins sold the contents of Barrett's home in Cambridge, no.6 St Margaret's Square, where he had lived since 1981.

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