It is 50 years ago this week that Donald Campbell died in Bluebird K7 on Lake Coniston. Bluebird was named after Blue Bird, the name of the Campbell-Railton car which broke the Land Speed Record for Sir Malcolm Campbell. Throughout the 1920’s and ’30’s Sir Malcolm set several Land Speed Records but Blue Bird finally gave him the power to break the 300 mph barrier on the Bonneville Salt Flats in 1935.
In 1997 Sir Terence Conran commissioned artist Jack Vettriano to paint a series of seven iconic Bluebird pictures for his Bluebird Restaurant/Club which was previously the Art Deco garage for Bluebird Motor Company where Sir Malcolm Campbell stored his cars. One of the pictures ‘Bluebird at Bonneville’ above sold for £468,000.
Jack’s Gallery in Hart Street, Henley have acquired studio proofs of all of the Bluebird collection (only 5 sets of studio proofs were produced) which are individually double mounted and framed in a stunning black wood to enhance the vibrant colours. Normally these pictures are only sold in complete boxed Edition sets.
After his Father’s death in 1948 Donald Campbell set out to break the world water speed record with his Sir Malcolm’s old boat, renamed Bluebird K4 and did so on seven occasions between 1955 and 1964. Donald’s desire was to also hold the world land speed record and his car Bluebird CN7 was completed in 1960. He returned to Bonneville Salt Flats where his Father had set the record 25 years before but lost control and crashed at 360 mph. He survived and finally set the Land Speed Record of 403.1 mph in 1964,on the salt beds of Lake Ere in South Australia. He died on 5th January 1967 attempting another Water Speed Record on Lake Coniston.
Donald Campbell remains the only person to hold the double of the World Water Speed record and the World Land Speed Record set in the same year. A truly astonishing British Family.
Jack Free, owner of Jack’s Gallery said, “I am very pleased to have acquired these rare proofs, which coincide with the 50th Anniversary of Donald Campbell’s death. These proofs are featuring this important era in our history, with an eclectic mix of seven different images.”