Editor's Letter: Lucinda Bredin "Last month I was in Antibes standing on the terrace of the Picasso Museum. It was a glorious day. To my left in the far distance were the Alps, lightly dusted with snow against a china blue sky; in front of me were the sea and a line of elongated figures – sculptures by the French artist, Germaine Richier. A year ago, Bonhams' Post-War & Contemporary Art sale in London had a section that drew attention to a particular truth in the art market: works by artists who are women are often undervalued compared to their male counterparts. Richier, who featured in that auction, is a case in point. A contemporary of Giacometti, her work is valued currently at one-tenth of his and yet, at the Picasso Museum, takes pride of place.
This season, Bonhams continues to mine the theme. The two artists leading the Post-War & Contemporary Art sales in London and New York are Bridget Riley and Helen Frankenthaler, both of whom have had buoyant positions in the art world – and art market – since they burst on the scene. On page 28, Gareth Harris writes about how Riley's work mesmerised New York in the 60s, while Francesca Gavin discusses Frankenthaler's innovative contribution to Colour Field painting.
This issue has a strong presence of powerful women. A.N. Wilson writes about Elizabeth Barrett Browning, who freed herself from her overbearing father and subsequently proved herself a far more radical political thinker than her husband, Robert. Her original manuscripts are on offer in New York's Fine Books Sale in March. What she scratched out is as interesting as the words that stand.
The Jackie Collins Sale in Los Angeles gives a perspective on another author. Collins wrote in a different time for a more diverse audience. One of her skills was to use her life in Hollywood as inspiration, and many of the works of art and pieces of jewellery in the sale appear in Collins' novels, as Jane Shilling points out on page 32.
Collins was a style icon for the 80s, but the indisputable figurehead for the 60s was Jacqueline Kennedy. We all know the glossy image of Jackie O, as she became, but a series of letters found in a locked box in north Wales written by her to David Ormsby Gore, Lord Harlech, show the vulnerability beneath her carapace. These letters, which are among the lots offered in London's Harlech Sale this March, reveal for the first time her reasons for marrying Aristotle Onassis – and turning down Lord Harlech's marriage proposal. In the words of Felix Pryor, who catalogued the letters, it is a heart-rending insight into her anguish."