National Portrait Gallery artist’s work discovered at vintage glamour magazine auction in West Bromwich

Vintage glamour magazines auctioned in West BromVintage glamour magazines auctioned in West Brom
Vintage glamour magazines auctioned in West Brom
Photographs by acclaimed artist Horace Roye discovered in vintage glamour magazine auction in West Bromwich

Rare artistic gems have been found buried in a massive collection of vintage glamour magazines and photos – saucy snaps taken before the photographer’s more serious, later work was displayed in the National Portrait Gallery

Those auctioning off the 1,200 strong library of top shelf material have been stunned to discover work by acclaimed Horace Roye –  so revered his obituary in the Guardian was headlined: “Photographer who clothed his naked ladies in art”. 

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The booklets, which have unexpectedly sparked a firestorm of high-brow interest, were compiled by Roye at the very beginning of his illustrious career. Back then, in the late 1930s, his prints were evidently more bawdy than ground-breaking. That’s illustrated by the titles: The English Maid, The Scottish Maid, The Irish Maid and, simply, Lovelies. 

Photographs by acclaimed artist Horace Roye discovered in a vintage glamour magazine auction in West BromwichPhotographs by acclaimed artist Horace Roye discovered in a vintage glamour magazine auction in West Bromwich
Photographs by acclaimed artist Horace Roye discovered in a vintage glamour magazine auction in West Bromwich

Yet Roye went on to make global headlines. One of his most famous works, Tomorrow’s Crucifixion, depicted a gas mask wearing nude model on a cross, created huge controversy. He successfully contested the obscenity laws of the time and gained a reputation as one of Britain’s most influential pre-war photographers. 

His most successful subjects were nude portraits – all 10,000 of them. His work laid buried in the mountain of mags being sold by West Bromwich company BTW Auctions and memorabilia collector Tim Beddow on the-saleroom.com 

“It’s a bit like finding DH Lawrence among back issues of Viz,” said one professional photographer. Tim Beddow said: “They are very, very tame by today’s standards and artistic. We were surprised by the level of interest, but now know why.” 

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Roye certainly believed in living life to the max. At the age of 75, he took up parasailing and enjoyed water skiing until 78. Married three times, he moved to Rabat, Morocco, in 1980 and it was there he lost his life. In 2002, aged 96, Roye was stabbed to death by an intruder. 

BTW Auctions’ naughty collection dates back to the late 1930s and includes such lost lads’ mag titles as Fiesta and Parade.  Tim said: “There’s a 1949 copy of Men’s Only and, frankly, it’s about as risqué as Readers Digest. I don’t know why they are so popular, perhaps it’s a nostalgia thing – taking men back to their teenage years.” The auction now runs to the end of January. 

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