Pullman Gallery

‘Fiat’ watercolour by Peter Helck, 1910

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Reference: 1210

‘The Great Louis Wagner, FIAT, Savanna Grand Prize 1910’. An interesting and unusual watercolour heightened with gouache, depicting Louis Wagner on the 10.4 litre FIAT racing car at the Savannah Races of 1910.

The painting was executed by Helck on or around 18th November 1950, on the front of an envelope addressed to Louis Wagner at his Montlhery, France address, which also bears the Boston, Mass postmark for that date, and five cancelled airmail stamps with aircraft design. Peter Helck was arguably the greatest motor-racing artist of all time. He personally attended many of the great American and Continental motor races of the pre-1914 era, and struck up a lifelong friendship with many of the drivers, including Wagner. Wagner contributed to Helck’s first book ‘The Chequered Flag’, published in 1964, and attests to his long friendship with Helck. They communicated mainly by air mail, and from time to time Helck would illustrate the envelopes with scenes of Wagner’s greatest triumphs. This is one of a handful of these illustrated envelopes retained by Wagner’s family after his death in 1970, which were then returned to Peter Helck. This envelope was acquired by the gallery from an American friend of Helck’s, who was given it by Helck in 1980.

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