A still life painting by a teenage Syd Barrett is to go up for auction on May 27. The future frontman of Pink Floyd created the piece in pastels and watercolor when he was just 15. Orange Dahlias in a Vase, 1961, signed R.Barrett, is now being put up for sale by his childhood friend Phil Harden.
He tells The Observer: “I have lots of happy memories, including watching the first Dr. Who series from behind the sofa together. But the Syd I remember is a different, younger person, and I know there are a lot of fans who feel even more about him who might give this painting a home.”
Harden’s father was the art teacher at Cambridgeshire High School for Boys, and taught the young Barrett. “He was a funny and lively boy, but also very protective of me, as I was six years younger,” says Harden. “It is rather amazing to me that he is still so highly regarded across the world.”
The Observer reports that the painting is expected to fetch between £3,000 and £5,000 when it is offered at leading independent auctioneers and valuers Cheffins, based in Cambridge. The company previously sold nine of Barrett’s later works after his death in 2006 for a total of £121,000, which went to fund art training in Cambridge.
A rare original
Cheffins director Brett Tryner said: “Syd Barrett remains one of the icons of the world of rock music. While he is known as the founder of Pink Floyd, he was also an accomplished artist. There are few original pictures in existence, especially as he later took to finishing a painting, photographing it and then burning the canvas.”
Barrett’s free-spirited creativity informed his all-too-brief recording years, both with Pink Floyd and immediately afterwards, and his fashion sense. In Disc and Music Echo in 1967, Penny Valentine wrote: “Syd himself is the most colour-conscious of the colorful Pinks. He dresses in clothes like black corduroy jackets, wine-red pants and white shoes. ‘Freedom is what I’m after,’ he comments. “‘That’s why I like working in this group. There’s such freedom artistically.’”