Contents of Bernard Kay’s Studio feature in Mallams’ 28 July Auction


The next sale at Mallams’ Auctioneers in Oxford takes place on 28 July and features ‘The Bernard Kay Studio Sale’.

Bernard Kay (1927-2021) was an English painter and engraver who started working in the post World War II period and was at the forefront of British art in the 1950s. 

Kay was born and raised in Southport and went on to attend the Liverpool School of Art (1943-1946), and the Royal Academy School of Painting in London (1948-1949) where he painted his abstracts alongside his friends Robyn Denny, David Hockney and Richard Smith. Later, he taught drawing at the Southport School of Art and Crafts (1950-1952) and etching at the Birmingham College of Arts and Crafts.

Kay moved to London permanently in 1953, and in 1954 he won a French Government Scholarship for Painting, and studied at the Académie Ronson in Paris from 1954 to 1955, moving on to study etching at the Atelier Friedlander, also in Paris. Kay was one of a number of post-war English artists whose work was exhibited in group shows and individually in London in the 1950s, and attracted favourable attention from national critics.

Mallams’ ‘Bernard Kay Studio Sale’ includes early works from Kay’s time at the Liverpool School of Art and the Royal Academy School of Painting as well as an eclectic mix of other items from his studio. See the full catalogue here


Kay exhibited at the Archer Gallery in London, and the Southport Summer Exhibition of Modern Art in 1954.  

A collection of his engravings was shown at the Galerie La Hune, Paris, in February 1955.  

His work featured in the Daily Express Young Artists’ Exhibitions in London, also in 1955. 

Kay showed at the Obelisk Gallery in London in 1956, and at an exhibition mounted by Roland Browse and Delbanco in London from November 1956 to January 1957.  

Thereafter his work appeared in the Christmas Exhibitions staged by Roland Browse and Delbanco from 1957 through to 1962. 

Kay’s first One Man exhibition was held in tandem with Norman Adams under the auspices of Roland Browse and Delbanco in January 1959, while a further One Man exhibition was held under the same auspices with Phillip Sutton in March 1962.

He also contributed to the ‘Cathedrals’ Suite of Etching of the Editions Alecto published in Spring 1966. 

From 1955 through to the late 1960s Kay undertook a series of etchings in conjunction with the St, George’s Gallery, London. In 1965 he published a series of aquatints known as the ‘Cathedral Suite’.


Bernard Kay’s work has been purchased for their permanent collections by a number of leading institutions. These have included:  

the Adelaide Museum of Modern Art, painting (1958), the Harris Art Gallery, Preston, painting (1958), the Museum of Modern Art, New York, aquatint (1959), The Philadelphia Museum of Modern Art, print prize (1959), the Seattle Art Museum, painting (1959), the Victoria and Albert Museum, aquatint (1959), the British Council, aquatint (1960), the Atkinson Art Gallery, Southport, painting (1962), the Cartwright Art Gallery, Bradford, painting (1963).

In addition, Kay’s paintings and etchings have sold well to private collectors in the UK and overseas, and his work has appeared in American Vogue magazine.

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