Actor James Mason's collectible memories of Yorkshire auction at Bonhams



2015-06-26 12:06:55

Actor James Mason's collectible memories of Yorkshire auction at Bonhams

Artworks depicting the Julius Caesar star's humble origins up North are for sale in Chester, UK

Yorkshire-born James Mason never forgot his roots even in his Swiss retirement. The pictures of Yorkshire he surrounded himself with, by the Yorkshire artist Peter Brook, will be sold by his estate at Bonhams' Chester sale on November 16.

James Mason was born in Huddersfield, Yorkshire in 1909. He had no formal training as an actor, but won roles in British films from the mid 1930s, and starred in many from the 1940s onwards, as well as appearing in many Hollywood films.

 'Bloody Cold' by Peter Brook

His major films included 'Julius Caesar' (1953), 'A Star is Born' (1954), 'North by North West' (1959), and in 1984 he appeared as the lord of the manor in 'The Shooting Party' (1985). His work took him away from Huddersfield, but through his family connections and friends he retained strong links with his hometown.

In 1969 James Mason was introduced to Peter Brook by the actor Rodney Bewes (best known for his role in UK sitcom The Likely Lads), when they were filming 'Spring and Port Wine' in Bolton.

Rodney Bewes had met the artist through Tom Courtney who also collected Brook's work. Bewes and Mason visited the artist's home in Brighouse, and formed a friendship, with their common interest in the landscape, towns and life of the Huddersfield and Holmfirth area.

Mason visited Peter Brook in the following 15 years, whenever he was in the area. In 1972 Brook appeared in 'Home James' a television film about Mason's Huddersfield memories. On the death of Mason's father Peter Brook painted Croft House, which was the family home in Huddersfield. This painting is included in the sale.

James Mason also assisted Peter Brook with loans to and purchases from the artist's exhibitions at Thomas Agnew and Sons, Old Bond St, London in the 1970s. James Mason purchased about 30 works by Peter Brook in total, and many of these were prominently displayed in his home in Switzerland. James Mason died in Switzerland in 1984.

 Another work by Peter Brook, entitled Frosty

Peter Brook was born in Holmfirth and attended Huddersfield School of Art and Goldsmiths College, London. He worked as an art teacher for a while, before painting full time. He was contracted to Thomas Agnew and sons, London, 1968-1972, and has had solo shows at Wakefield City Art Gallery (1960) and Huddersfield Art Gallery (1990).

There have been several exhibitions of his work following his death in December 2009. The major interest of his work was the townscape of industrial West Yorkshire, and the Pennine hills which dominate the towns, particularly in winter.

He was described as a very modest and shy man, but his works combine great technical skill with acute observation of sky, landscape, figures and buildings. They possess a strong sense of place and evoke the atmosphere the Calder Valley and surrounding regions. Peter Brook's paintings have been reproduced by The Tate Britain for their diaries in both 2009 and 2011.

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