A rare painting Pink Floyd's Syd Barrett made as a teen is up for auction

Singer Syd Barrett performing live onstage, playing Fender Esquire guitar, 1967
(Image credit: Andrew Whittuck/Redferns)

A super rare painting by a young Syd Barrett is to be put up for auction. The piece was created by the Pink Floyd vocalist when he was just 15 years of age, and was produced from a medley of watercolours and pastels.

Titled Orange Dahlias In A Vase, 1961 and signed R.Barrett, the artwork is currently in possession of childhood friend Phil Harden, and will be sold off on May 27 at the independent auctioneers Cheffins, based in Cambridge, UK.

Previously, following Barrett’s death in 2006, the auction house sold nine of his later works for a total of £121,000, which was used to fund local art training. This piece however is reportedly expected to sell for around £3,000 to £5,000. 

Barrett’s love of art was encouraged by Harden’s father, who was also his art teacher at the Cambridgeshire High School for Boys. “He was a funny and lively boy, but also very protective of me, as I was six years younger,” explains Harden to the Observer. “It is rather amazing to me that he is still so highly regarded across the world.

“I have lots of happy memories, including watching the first Dr. Who series from behind the sofa together," he continues. "But the Syd I remember is a different, younger person, and I know there are a lot of fans who feel even more about him who might give this painting a home.”

Barrett, whose original first name was Roger, was one of Harden's father's star pupils, and was even allowed to use his best oil paint. The young vocalist's paintings of dahlias were considered particularly impressive, and were often displayed on the classroom's walls. Barrett then went on to study art locally, as well as at the Camberwell School of Art. Following his artistic education, Barrett founded Pink Floyd with another childhood friend, Roger Waters.

Barrett and Waters both lived nearby, and would frequently hang out together with Harden as young boys. He explains: “We all played cowboys and Indians together and I was always the one tied up against a tree. They also used to make go-karts and somehow, because I was smaller, I was always the test driver.”

Cheffins director Brett Tryner states: “Syd Barrett remains one of the icons of the world of rock music. While he is known as the founder of Pink Floyd, he was also an accomplished artist. There are few original pictures in existence, especially as he later took to finishing a painting, photographing it and then burning the canvas.”

Orange Dahlias in a Vase, 1961

(Image credit: Syd Barrett)
Liz Scarlett

Liz works on keeping the Louder sites up to date with the latest news from the world of rock and metal. Prior to joining Louder as a full time staff writer, she completed a Diploma with the National Council for the Training of Journalists and received a First Class Honours Degree in Popular Music Journalism. She enjoys writing about anything from neo-glam rock to stoner, doom and progressive metal, and loves celebrating women in music.