73 portrait drawings of Damien Hirst’s former business manager allocated to the British Museum under the Cultural Gifts Scheme
A collection of 73 portraits of Frank Dunphy by Damien Hirst, known as”The Wolseley Drawings”, has been generously donated by Frank Dunphy through the Cultural Gifts Scheme and allocated to the British Museum.
Frank Dunphy masterminded many important sales of Hirst’s work, during his time as his business manager and agent throughout the 90s and 2000s. Meeting for breakfast at the Wolseley in Mayfair, the pair would discuss their business affairs; it was during these meetings from 2004 to 2010 that Hirst produced these 73 portraits drawn on the back of the Wolseley restaurant’s 22cm diameter placemats.
Hirst would rest a placemat on his knee, so that they were out of sight of passers-by, and begin to sketch in pen or pencil. Some of the portraits are stained with coffee and food from the breakfasts. Many are humorous, such as the portrayal of Dunphy as a boiled egg; drawn after a discussion between the pair as to whether it was best to open a boiled egg at its pointed or flat end! On others Hirst frequently alludes to auction dates of his own works, with titles including FRANK: PHARMACY AUCTION DAY! and SKULLDUGGERY DAY, the latter referring to the sale of his diamond and platinum skull sculpture,” For the Love of God”
“The British Museum is delighted to have acquired such a vivacious group of drawings by Damien Hirst,” Hartwig Fischer, Director of the British Museum, said,” and we are grateful to the Cultural Gifts Scheme and to Frank Dunphy for making it possible. These drawings provide a compelling insight into one of the most fascinating and impactful art world partnerships.