Led Zeppelin mystery as halt is brought to sale of Millais sketches found inside album covers
Date: 19 Aug 2010 | | Views: 1987
IT was one of the more unusual art finds: four sketches by Pre-Raphaelite artist John Everett Millais tucked inside covers of Led Zeppelin LPs.
What brought the worlds of rock and fine art even closer was the fact the albums belonged to Rick Hobbs, chauffeur and aide of Jimmy Page, one of the band's founders and a passionate collector of Victorian art.
They were discovered by Sue Cook, who cared for Mr Hobbs before his death at the age of 81. At first she did not realise the significance of the find but several months after their discovery decided to have them valued.
But the sketches, made when Millais was 14, were withdrawn from sale at the last minute on Saturday because of concerns about how Mr Hobbs came to have them.
Before the sale, Duncan Chilcott, the auctioneer, had speculated that Jimmy Page may have given them to Mr Hobbs as a reward for his devoted service. He said: “Jimmy Page is known to be a passionate collector of Victorian art and it is tempting to believe the drawings were given to Rick by him. This is supported perhaps by the fact that Rick chose to protect them by slipping them inside Led Zeppelin LP covers. As a result, they are in excellent condition and not faded.”
Yesterday he was less forthcoming. He said he did not know whether Mrs Cook had withdrawn them because of an intervention by Mr Page.
Members of the supergroup and their families attended Mr Hobbs' woodland burial after his death in January. He had known Mr Page for 40 years and had been a trusted member of the Led Zeppelin “family”.
Mrs Cook recalled that he carried on working for Mr Page well into his 70s. Mrs Cook, 46, from Somerset, said: “Rick was a chauffeur for a London company and met the band when they hired him.
“They hit it off right from the start and he became Jimmy Page's right-hand man. He was his valet, PA and chauffeur because Jimmy never learned to drive. Even in his 70s, Rick would get a phone call, jump in his car and drive up to London to sort something out for him.
“Rick was highly trusted by the group. He used to ferry their children about - they knew they would be safe .”
Millais made the sketches in 1843 when he was a precocious student at the Royal Academy.
At least two were inspired by poems by Robert Burns. One is a Venetian scene with a gondolier serenading a lady at a window. Beneath is a verse from Farewell Thou Stream that reads: “The music of thy voice I heard/Nor wist while it enslav'd me!/I saw thine eyes, yet nothing fear'd/Till fears no more had sav'd me!”