Monday, May 31, 2010

Edward Burne-Jones - The Heart of the Rose

one of a set of three pictures illustrating Chaucer's The Romaunt of the Rose.

signed with initials
38 x 51.5"
with a verse by William Morris:

'The ending of the tale ye see;
The Lover draws anigh the tree,
And takes the branch, and takes the rose,
That love and he so dearly chose.'

Exhibited New Gallery 1893

John Everett Millais - My First Sermon

signed with monogram
on board
13 x 9"

an autograph copy which was exhibited at the RA in 1863
the model was his oldest daughter Effie posing in the old pews in Kingston Church
This copy was painted for Agnews.

Walter Crane - Peacocks

['Bluebeard and Gloriana' - Peacocks on the terrace at Rode Hall, Cheshire] 1871
signed with monogram 1871 l.r.
watercolour, bodycolour and coloured chalks
11.5 x 17.5"

Rode Hall (Cheshire) was the home of Mr and Mrs Randle Wilbraham, friends of the artist in the late 1860's. It was exhibited at the Dudley Gallery.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Eleanor Fortescue Brickdale - three watercolours

[Apologies for only having these in b&w]

[The Offering]
signed E.F.BRICKDALE l.r.
watercolour heightened with bodycolour over traces of pencil
14 1/4 x 10"

[Like the Remembrance of a Guest that Tarrieth but a Day]
signed with monogram 19EFB l.r.
watercolour and bodycolour
15 3/4 x 9.5"

signed with monogram 19EFB01 l.r.
watercolour and bodycolour heightened with scraching out
17 x 10.5"

John William Waterhouse - head of a red headed girl

oil on canvas board
14 x 10.5"

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Satire on Two Little Princes

nice comment on British politics
Not sure if Millais would have appreciated it!
Dave Brown in The Independent

Eleanor Fortescue-Brickdale - Madame Placid

c. 1911
signed E F B l.r.
14 x 10.5"

G F Watts - Sketches

from a leather-bound sketchbook, dated Jan 1851

[Figure studies believed to be Ellen Terry]
8 3/4 x 12 1/4"

[Vesuvius, Bay of Naples]

[The Death of Elias]
red chalk
11 1/4 x 16"

Evelyn de Morgan - Deianira

Friday, May 28, 2010

William Holman Hunt - Landscape study at Scanderoon - clouds lying in the hills

Made ar Iskenderun in s. Turkey on Sunday 25 Nov 1855 during his journey to Constantinople.

Simeon Solomon - Sappho and Erinna in the garden Mytelene

heightened with white
signed with monogram (l.r.)
dated 2.64
13 x 14.5"
Legend has it that Sappho and Erinna met at a community of young girls who worshippesd Aphrodite at Mytelene on the island of Lesbos.

Simeon Solomon was known affectionately as the darling of the Pre-Raphaelites, until his tragic rejection from polite society following his arrest in February 1873, aged 32, in a public lavatory in London. His charge with indecent exposure (and 'attempting to commit buggery') received a £100 fine and ruined his career.
and this picture may well be a comment on his own situation.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Collection of Letters - John Everett Millais

This collection of letters were made by William Henry Millais in 1852/3 and describe painting trips with his brother John. In the second picture shown here it is John carving the meat. The first includes Ruskin and Effie (still married at this time) on their northward journey to Brig o'Turk near Callander in the Trossachs in 1853.

Eleanor Fortescue Brickdale - Head of a Tudor Girl

signed EFB l.l.
Watercolour heightened with bodycolour
13 1/4 x 9"

Eleanor Fortescue Brickdale - A Hue and Cry after Cupid

produced as a plate for Old English Songs and Ballads, 1915
16 x 12 1/4"
the title is from Ben Jonson

signed with initials EFB lr

Edward Burne-Jones - Cartoons for Berlin

[Cartoons for stained glass windows in the English Church, Berlin]

arched top, 69 x 34"

comissioned in 1886 for the English Church of St George in Berlin (totally destroyed in 1944).

Edward Burne-Jones - Head of a Girl

Pencil and red chalk
11 3/4 x 12"

The sitter was Augusta Jones and this was probably drawn in the mid 1860's when she often sat for him. This seems to be a sketch related to his watercolour Astrologia.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Pre-Raphaelites - Epsom and Ewell History Explorer

[A Day in the Country by William Holman Hunt]

Models, Lovers, Wives

[Marie Spartali Stillman (left) and Alexa Wilding (right)
That may be Jane Morris' daughter May dancing in the background]

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Eleanor Fortescue Brickdale

I've featured these before but they came up for auction in London in 1990 (Sotherby's) but didn't sell.

[Gather Ye Rosebuds]
signed 'EFB' (lr)
Watercolour over pencil
18.5 x 11 1/4"
The gardens are Condover Hall in Shropshire.
The title is basedo Robet Herrick's

"Gather ye rosebuds while ye may
Old Time is still a-flying"

[Today for Me]
signed l.r. with a monogram and dated 1901
Watercolour and bodycolour over pencil
20 1/4 x 30 3/4

1872 – 1945.
She studied at the Royal Academy and worked at first mostly in illustration, moving to paintings influenced by the Pre-Raphaelite artists. Later, she also worked with stained glass. She was a staunch Christian, and donated works to churches.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Ruskin's Italy, Ruskin's England

[John Everett Millais - The Countess as Barber]
Pen and brown ink on wove paper
7 3/8 x 9 1/16 inches

Ruskin's Italy, Ruskin's England
Morgan Library (2001 exhibition)

Monday, May 17, 2010

James Thomas Linnell - Firs and Furze

22 ½ by 31 ¼ in.
signed, titled, dated and inscribed on an artist's label attached to the stretcher: Firs and Furze/ James Thomas Linnell/ Red Hill/ Reigate/ Surrey/ 1854
oil on canvas
Hammer Price with Buyer's Premium: 34,850 GBP

This delightful Pre-Raphaelite landscape was almost certainly painted on the Surrey Downs, close to Reigate where Linnell lived. A young herdsman has fallen asleep on the grass beside a bridle path, whilst his flock stray into the adjacent field, which is being furrowed by a ploughman and his horses. The subject suggests a knowledge of Holman Hunt's painting The Hireling Shepherd (Manchester City Art Gallery) in which a shepherd's flocks are allowed to stray whilst he idles in the arms of a comely maid. Hunt's painting had been completed in 1851 and exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1852, only two years before Linnell painted Firs and Furze. Linnell probably saw the picture at the Academy and might have already known that the Hunt had begun to paint the landscape near Ewell in Surrey. He may have taken inspiration from the quotation from King Lear that was appended to Hunt's picture in the exhibition:

'Sleepeth or waketh thou, jolly shepherd?
Thy sheep be in the corn;
And for one blast of thy minikin mouth,
Thy sheep shall take no harm.'

The study of the wildflowers in the foreground, including the buttercups and daisies growing along the path and the firs and flowering furze (gorse) from which the picture takes its name, are captured with a Pre-Raphaelite attention to detail.

Edward Robert Hughes - Woman walking her Dog

c. 1900
Tempera on board
Signed E R Hughes

16.14 inches wide 21.26 inches high
Hughes was the nephew of Arthur Hughes.

John Brett - Saints Bay, Guernsey

signed and dated l.l.: John Brett 1875; inscribed and signed on an old label attached to the stretcher: "Saints Bay, Guernsey"/ John Brett. R.A./ 30 Harley Street/ London

oil on canvas
15 by 30 in
Hammer Price with Buyer's Premium: 18,750 GBP
This view of Saints Bay on Guernsey was made following Brett's first visit to the Channel Islands in 1874. He and his wife Mary had travelled by public steamer from Weymouth to St Peter Port. Saints Bay is on the island's south coast close to its eastern tip, in the parish of St Martin. The rock headlands that meet the sea along this shoreline seem to have been of particular interest to the artist, who remained fascinated by the conjunction of geology and the mechanisms of physical geography.

It seems likely that the subject was worked up from a smaller sketch, now unlocated but last recorded in the collection of W. G. Constable. It was presumably painted, on Brett's most favoured double square format, the following winter or early in 1875, and therefore allowing it to be sent to that year's exhibition of the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists.

Brett was not to return to Guernsey until 1884, on that occasion taking passage in his own yacht.

Sotheby's is grateful to Charles Brett for kind assistance in the preparation of this catalogue entry.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Dante Gabriel Rossetti - Study for 'Found'

pencil with pen and ink
8¾ by 7½ in
Hammer Price with Buyer's Premium: 85,250 GBP

Simeon Solomon, to whom given by the artist;

This dramatic and expressive drawing was made as a preparatory study for the head of the young woman who shrinks from the sight of her childhood sweetheart, a drover from the countryside, who recognises her as she works as a prostitute on the streets of London. The painting, which was Rossetti's single attempt at a moral modern life subject of the type that Holman Hunt and Ford Madox Brown were making in the early 1850s, was begun in 1854 to the commission of Francis MacCracken. Abandoned in the mid-1850s, it was then recommissioned by James Leathart in 1859. Rossetti was still working on it in the last years of his life, but was unable to bring the flawed composition to a resolution. Both Edward Burne-Jones and H. T. Dunn worked on the subject after Rossetti's death in 1882. The painting is now in the Bancroft Collection at the Delaware Art Museum in Wilmington.

Although the present drawing has a complete and most interesting provenance –having been given to Simeon Solomon, then ceded by Solomon to Frederick Hollyer in settlement of a debt, and then passed to James Gray the first director of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery – it has not appeared in the Rossetti literature. It is closely related to a drawing of the girl's head (although slightly more raised and with eyes open, whereas in the present drawing we see her nearly in profile and with head downcast) now in Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery (Surtees catalogue number 64 O). In each case Rossetti has emphasised the dark shadow cast by the girl's face as she presses against the brick wall. In the Birmingham drawing he pays attention to her hair, revealed as her bonnet falls to the back of her head, while in the present instance the bonnet is indicated by broader elliptical strokes of chalk.

The model for the present drawing is not identified. Rossetti is supposed to have made drawings from a girl who was an unnamed friend of Ford Madox Brown when first working on the composition. Surtees has made the suggestion that the face shown in the Birmingham study for the prostitute's head was that of a maid servant employed in the household of Alexander Munro. In 1859, when Rossetti resumed work on the subject, Fanny Cornforth became the model, and it is her features that we recognise in the painting as it exists now.
CSN (Sotherby's)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Dante Gabriel Rossetti - Portrait of Miss Alexa Wilding

signed with monogram and dated 1879 l.l.

pencil and chalk
37½ by 22 in
Hammer Price with Buyer's Premium: 121,250 GBP (2008)

Henry Treffry Dunn recalled how Rossetti had first seen Miss Wilding in 1865 (whose first name was in fact Alice, although in due course she adopted the more exotic 'Alexa') when she was walking in the Strand and how he had besought her to allow him to paint and draw her. On the first occasion of asking she failed to appear at his studio as had been arranged, but, according to Dunn's account, by chance Rossetti saw her again - apparently at the same spot where he had seen her before. On this second occasion, Rossetti succeeded in persuading Alexa that his intentions were honourable, so that in due course she began to serve as a model. One of the first studies of Alexa, dated 1865, was sold in these rooms (12 July 2007, lot 14). Within a year, Rossetti had embarked on the series of paintings of her, of which Venus Verticordia (Russell-Cotes Art Gallery, Bournemouth) Monna Vanna (Tate, London), Sibylla Palmifera (Lady Lever Art Gallery, Port Sunlight) and La Ghirlandata (Guildhall Art Gallery, City of London) are among the most famous. During the second half of the 1860s and early 1870s, Rossetti relied upon Alexa Wilding to be available to him, finding her a patient and biddable sitter, and with a kind of beauty which was passive enough to allow her to adopt a wide variety of personifications and roles. Over a period of several years he paid her a small salary that she should model for him exclusively, perhaps because it was known that other artists - notably John Everett Millais - desired to paint her.

Alexa Wilding's personality is hard to gauge, either from the accounts of people who knew her, or on the basis of her representation in Rossetti's paintings and drawings. Dunn described her as a woman whose 'lovely face [was] beautifully moulded in every feature, [and] full of a quiescent soft mystical repose that suited some of his [Rossetti's] compositions admirably, but without any variety of expression'. William Michael Rossetti, Dante Gabriel's brother, found her physiognomy more demonstrative, describing 'a head of fine and rather peculiar mould, eminently strong in contour and also capable of much varying expression'. Frederic George Stephens believed that 'in regard to her form and air, he [Rossetti] never adopted a more exquisite form of womanhood, per se' than 'the beautiful Miss Wilding', explaining that Rossetti's representations of Alexa were quite personal and dependent upon his own feelings for her: 'So many differently inspired versions did Rossetti give us of the beauty of Alice Wilding. Nevertheless, I dare say, not a little of her charm existed mostly in the passionate heart of the painter; yet I well remember that nothing he drew of her, diverse as the delineations were, seemed less than an exact likeness'.

Alexa made occasional visits to Kelmscott Manor in Oxfordshire, where Rossetti lived for a period from 1872, although she was only permitted to go there when Jane Morris was not in residence. In 1873 she attempted to gain her financial independence by setting up a boarding house, although in the mid-1870s she still received money from Rossetti. Gradually, however, she drifted out of his circle, and by the late 1870s was modelling for him only on rare occasions. Two children were born to her, in 1876 and 1877, although Alexa seems not to have been married to their father. The present drawing is among the last appearances of Alexa in Rossetti's art. The second version of Rossetti's Sancta Lilias of 1879 (Virginia Museum of Fine Arts) was his last painting for which she served as a model. H.T. Dunn described how Alexa, after Rossetti's death in 1882, made an expedition to the churchyard at Birchington-on-Sea to lay a wreath upon his grave. She herself died in 1884, aged thirty-seven.

Biographical information about Alexa Wilding, and a detailed account of her relationship with Rossetti, is given as Appendix 3, 'Monna Innominata: Alexa Wilding', in William E. Fredeman (ed.), The Correspondence of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, vol. VI, Cambridge, 2006, pp.605-45. See also, Simon Toll, 'Dante Gabriel Rossetti's discovery of Alexa Wilding', British Art Journal, vol. VII, no. 2, pp. 87-91.

Rossetti's 1879 drawing shows Alexa Wilding, her arms resting on her crossed knees, her left hand resting on her right, and her right foot appearing from beneath flowing draperies. The girl's face and head are carefully drawn and characteristic of Rossetti's work in the last phase of his career. The remaining part is more summarily treated, with sweeping lines and rapidly applied hatching making up the outlines of her body. The discrepancy in the degree of care given to these different areas of the drawing, with a corresponding variation of quality, may be the result of Rossetti's having commenced the study as a portrait of Alexa on a more restricted format and representing only her head and shoulders, but having as an afterthought decided to treat her as a full length seated figure. As is often the case with Rossetti's later drawings, the original sheet – which offered sufficient space for a head and shoulders study – has been added to at its lower edge to double the composition's overall size.

When the present drawing belonged to the London firm of art dealers Barbizon House (probably in the 1920s), it was given the title Desdemona, suggesting that it was made as a study for the projected but never completed composition based on Shakespeare's play Othello (Act IV, Scene III), upon which Rossetti was working in the late 1870s and until shortly before his death. The pose taken is, however, very different from that shown in the two other drawings of the figure of Desdemona (the first, Birmingham City Art Gallery; Surtees 254D, plate 381; the second, Lord Lloyd-Webber collection). The stance of the figure in the present drawing seems more likely to be connected with the later version of the drawing Michael Scott's Wooing (William Morris Gallery, Walthamstow; Surtees 222, plate 313), in which the figure who is the object of the loving attention of Michael Scott similarly sits with her hands crossed and resting on her knees. Michael Scott's Wooing was a project to which Rossetti returned intermittently, from 1867, when the first watercolour version was commissioned, to 1871, when Frederick Leyland asked for an oil version of the subject. Two further drawings, one of a girl alone, the other of a girl with a boy who kneels before her (Victoria and Albert Museum; Surtees 222C, plate 314, and Birmingham City Museum and Art Gallery; Surtees 222B, plate 316, respectively) seemed to have been made in connection with it (one is dated 1869), and both of these show the girl facing towards the right, as we see her in the present drawing. In the Walthamstow drawing the girl's head is lowered, as it is to a lesser degree in the present drawing. However, the connection between the Walthamstow version of Michael Scott's Wooing and the present drawing is complicated by their being opposite ways round – with the model in the present drawing facing towards the right, while she faces towards the left in the Walthamstow drawing. Furthermore, although the Walthamstow drawing is not securely dated, it may be assumed to come from an earlier period than 1879.

The present drawing should perhaps be regarded as simply an extempore sketch of Alexa Wilding, rather than a compositional design related to a realised or intended project. Certainly it captures the soulful and dolorous beauty of a woman who Rossetti admired intensely. In making the drawing, he may have been unconsciously essaying an earlier figure type but without any deliberate intention of making a design which might easily be transferred into a figural composition.
CSN (Sotherby's)

Arthur Hughes - A Music Party

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

John Brett - The River Dart


The River Dart is currently on display in the Beige Gallery as part of the Objects of Affection exhibition. It will be the focus of a free Lunchtime Gallery Talk by Greg Smith on Thursday 13th May.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Waterhouse's Shelley Sketches

Initial Sketches for The Siren; Vanity; Medea in Jason and Medea; Ariadne; A Listener in A Tale from the Decameron; Penelope and the Suitors on the end-papers and leaves of The Poetical Works of Percy Bysshe Shelley, George Routledge and Sons, London & New York, 1880
Pencil on paper book leaves