Art influenced by the art and themes of the Pre Raphaelites with biographies, auctions and information on these artists.
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Ellen Terry c. 1890 - Frederick Hollyer
Labels: Ellen Terry
Dante Gabriel Rossetti - Marie Zambaco
Maria Zambaco, born Maria Cassavetti, left her husband in Paris in 1866 and became a leading light in London's Greek community. She sat regularly for several artists, including Burne-Jones, to whom she became romantically attached. She also sat for Rossetti. This portrait of her, with her expressive eyes and lips, soft skin and rich, auburn-tinted brown hair, demonstrates his mastery of the use of soft chalks. He used soft chalks increasingly in preference to the more cumbersome medium of oil paint.
Labels: Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Marie Zambaco
Simeon Solomon - The Little Improvisatrice
Pencil, pen and ink on paper
Signed with monogram, inscribed with the title and dated '67
John Everett Millais - Sketches for Mariana and The Return of the Dove
Pencil on paper
Monday, August 30, 2010
Julia Margaret Cameron - Julia Jackson
Julia Jackson was Julia Margaret Cameron's niece and goddaughter, later the mother of Virigina Woolf and Vanessa Bell. A renowned beauty who sat for G.F. Watts and Edward Burne-Jones, Jackson was one of Mrs Cameron's favourite and most photographed subjects. Cameron made numerous portraits of Jackson but none are as visually compelling as this profile where the light cast across her face and neck emphasises her strong classical features. The photograph was taken shortly before Jackson's marriage to Herbert Duckworth. Mrs Cameron did not generally use Jackson to portray religious or literary figures and narratives but rather made heroic studies of her in her own right such as this. The print has a hair, probably the photographer's, embedded between the paper and the albumen silver emulsion in the lower right section of the sheet.
Posted by Hermes at 1:00 PM 2 comments:
Labels: Julia Margaret Cameron
Thomas Woolner - Achilles shouting from the Trenches
Achilles Shouting from the Trenches, circa 1865-8
bronze in an oak stepped surround
the plaque: 17 in. (43 cm.) high; with the frame: 23 in. (58 cm.) high
Achilles Shouting from the Trenches was originally conceived as the centre panel of a triptych, depicting scenes from The Iliad, to decorate the plinth supporting the bust of William Ewart Gladstone (Ashmolean Museum; Oxford), which was commissioned by a group of subscribers, and was originally placed in the Bodleian Library, Oxford. He carved a marble version of the same subject, which was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1876 (no. 1417) and deposited by him as his Diploma Work. A second marble, now in Christchurch Mansion, Ipswich, was carved for his patron Charles Jenner.
We are grateful to Peyton Skipwith at The Fine Art Society for his help in preparing this entry.
Labels: Thomas Woolner
George Frederic Watts - Studies of arms for 'Orpheus and Eurydice'
Labels: George Frederic Watts
George Frederic Watts - Orpheus and Eurydice
Price Realized £204,650
oil on canvas
13¼ x 21 in. (33.2 x 53.3 cm.)
London, Royal Academy, 1869, no. 700.
The son of Apollo and the muse Calliope, Orpheus was a Thracian poet who played the lyre so skilfully that even wild beasts were entranced. He married Eurydice, a wood nymph, but the marriage was not blessed with happiness. Bitten by a snake as she fled the advances of a lusty shepherd, Eurydice died, and Orpheus determined to seek her in Hades. He pleaded with Pluto and Proserpine, the deities of the underworld, for her release, accompanying his words with strains on the lyre so sweet that all who heard shed tears. The gods relented and allowed Eurydice to follow her husband on the condition that he did not look back during their journey. The temptation, however, was too great; just as they were reaching the upper world, Orpheus turned to look at Eurydice and she was snatched back into the shades.
Inconsolable at his second loss, Orpheus shunned female company and thereby excited the fury of the Thracian women as they celebrated the orgies of Bacchus. Tearing him limb from limb, they threw his head into the river Hebrus, where it continued to lament Eurydice as it floated down to the Aegean sea. The couple were finally united in Hades, and Jupiter placed Orpheus' lyre among the stars.
This is one of Watts's most famous compositions, known in many versions. The picture was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1869 (the same year as Poynter's Prodigal's Return, lot 29), and seems to have been the first version he completed. Others were shown at the Dudley Gallery in 1872 and the Grosvenor Gallery in 1879, and he continued to paint versions almost until his death.
Watts would often become obsessed with a composition in this way, returning to it time and again to reinterpret it in the light of some new inspiration. In the case of Orpheus and Eurydice, some versions, like the present one and the example in the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard, are landscape-shaped paintings with half-length figures, but others, including those in the Aberdeen Art Gallery (the 1879 Grosvenor version) and the Watts Gallery at Compton, are vertical canvases in which the figures are seen full-length. Details also vary; Orpheus's right hand strays from Eurydice's breast (as in the present picture) to her shoulder or her waist, while in some upright versions his lyre becomes a lute which has dropped to the ground.
The constant in all these versions, and what clearly drew Watts back to the subject so often, is the relationship of the two figures and their spiral movement as they turn or fall back into space. The motif of two interrelated bodies always fascinated Watts, and there are many other examples: The Good Samaritan, Paulo and Francesca, Jacob and Esau, Love and Death, Love and Life, and so on. As for figures in violent contraposto, one has only to recall the well-known bust Clytie, conceived about 1867, to realise how this image captured his imagination. In Orpheus and Eurydice the two favourite pictorial ideas are combined.
The picture was bought by Mrs Percy Wyndham (1835-1920). She and her family were leading lights in the social set known as the 'Souls', and great patrons and friends of artists. The Wyndhams' most conspicuous act of patronage was to commission Philip Webb to build them a country house, 'Clouds', in Wiltshire in the early 1880s, but Leighton executed murals for their London house, 44 Belgrave Square, Watts painted Mrs Wyndham's portrait, and Sargeant painted the three Wyndham sisters in one of his most bravura performances, exhibited at the R.A. in 1900. Burne-Jones, too, was a close friend, and the family owned many of his works.
Watts's portrait of Mrs Wyndham, one of his finest, was begun in the spring of 1867, finished in 1870, and shown at the first exhibition at the Grosvenor Gallery in 1877. Presumably she saw Orpheus and Euridice in his studio when she came for sittings. Since the picture was not finished when she agreed to buy it, he charged her only 200 guineas, 50 guineas less than he would have asked for it at the R.A..
The picture was enthusiastically received when it appeared at Burlington House, where the R.A. was holding its summer exhibition for the first time this year. F.G. Stephens, writing in the Athenaeum, described it as 'a painted poem' which he 'coveted' more than any of Watts's contributions. The Times thought the drawing 'careless', but found the picture 'exquisite in colour and full of the passion that befits the subject'. As for the Art Journal, it went into ecstasies over this 'lovely and rapturous composition...The forms are of noble type, the action is grand, even tragic. The work may be quoted as a striking example of how greatness may be made compatible with a small scale'.
Orpheus and Eurydice was described by Mrs Russell Barrington in her Reminicences of the artist as follows: 'This picture was painted some years ago, but it has been nearly repainted since it was exhibited in France and in the Grosvenor Gallery, in 1882, the object in so doing being to get rid of everything approaching to black in the colouring.' The French exhibition has not been identified.
The subject of Orpheus appealed strongly to artists of the Symbolist period, who saw his head still singing after death as a metaphor for the immortality of art. In France the theme inspired a famous painting by Gustave Moreau, exhibited at the Salon in 1866 (Musée d'Orsay, Paris), and it was subsequently treated by Puvis de Chavannes, Odilon Redon, and others. In England its exponents included not only Watts but Leighton, Burne-Jones, J.W. Waterhouse and Charles Ricketts. Burne-Jones used it to decorate the 'Orpheus' piano which he designed and painted for Willian Graham's daughter, Frances (another prominent 'Soul') in 1879-80. Two drawings related to this project were sold in these Rooms on 7 June 2001, lot 24-5.
The proceeds from the sale of this painting will be given by the Forbes family to aid the restoration of the Watts Gallery, Compton.
Labels: George Frederic Watts
Sunday, August 29, 2010
John Everett Millais - 'The Parable of the Lost Piece of Silver'
Simeon Solomon - A Deacon
Price Realized £40,630
signed with monogram and dated '63' (lower right)
oil on canvas
14 x 10 in. (35 x 25.4 cm.)
London, Royal Academy, 1864, no. 273.
Another of Solomon's sacerdotal subjects of the 1860s. This time the context is Anglo-Catholic. Like his friend Walter Pater, Solomon was fascinated by High Church and Roman Catholic practice and ritual. In later life, an outcast from society following his arrest for 'gross indecency' in 1873, he was to find shelter and consolation at the Carmelite Church in Church Street, Kensington.
Simeon Solomon - Heliogabalus, High Priest of the Sun
Price Realized £26,290
signed with device and dated '1866' (lower right)
pencil and watercolour, heightened with bodycolour with gum arabic and with scratching out
18¾ x 11 3/8 in. (47.6 x 28.9 cm.)
London, Dudley Gallery, 1868, no. 252.
Manchester, Royal Institution, Exhibition of Art Treasures in Aid of the Fund for Erecting a School of Art, 1878, no. 173.
Heliogabalus was the most debauched of all the Roman emperors. Taking his name from an oriental sun god, he ascended the imperial throne in AD 218 and, according to Gibbon, 'abandoned himself in the grossest pleasures with ungoverned fury.' Within four years he had alienated the army which had brought him to power, and on 10 March AD 222 both he and his mother were assassinated by the Praeterian guards. His endearing habit of holding feasts at which his courtiers would be smothered in rose-petals was the subject of a famous painting by Alma-Tadema, exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1888 and sold in these Rooms on 11 June 1993 (lot 121).
The figure of Heliogabalus had an obvious appeal for Solomon, who was fascinated by erotic and sadistic themes. Nor is it accidental that the subject is classical, or that the emperor is seen in his role as high priest of the sun-worship that he introduced to Rome. Solomon's work in the 1860s often reflects the early development of late Victorian classicism, while he was powerfully attracted to the theme of religious ritual. Heliogabalus belongs to a long series of paintings of this period in which a good-looking young priest is seen ministering in the context of the Jewish, Greek Orthodox or Anglo-Catholic faiths.
Solomon's interest in sexual perversion was formed and encouraged by his friend A.C. Swinburne, who in 1871 published an essay on the artist in the magazine The Dark Blue. Inevitably he harped on the moral ambiguity of Heliogabalus, describing it as 'symbolic...of the lusts of the flesh and the secrets of the soul, of the kingdom of this world and the mystery of another.' Swinburne loved to raise eyebrows by indulging in this level of Aesthetic-cum-Symbolist rhetoric, but however close he sailed to the wind, he never paid the ultimate price demanded by the vengeful forces of conventional morality. Solomon, whether weaker or more honest, was certainly less fortunate. In 1873 his career collapsed when he was arrested in a public urinal and convicted of homosexual offences.
It is interesting that the picture was exhibited at the Dudley Gallery in 1868. The Gallery had held annual exhibitions of watercolours in the Egyptian Hall, Piccadilly, since 1865, and was supported by many of the younger Pre-Raphaelites and Aesthetic painters, among them not only Solomon and his friend Henry Holiday but artists like Walter Crane, Edward Clifford and Robert Bateman, who saw themselves as followers of Burne-Jones. In fact the Dudley was the chief forum for Aesthetic values before the Grosvenor Gallery opened in 1877.
Emma Sandys - The Garland
Price Realized £10,755
signed with monogram (upper right) and dated '1870' (upper left)
oil on board
17 x 13 in. (43.2 x 33 cm.)
Possibly London, Royal Academy, 1870, no. 824.
Emma Sandys was the daughter of a minor Norwich artist and the sister of a major one: Anthony Frederick Augustus Sandys (see lots 91 and 239). She was much influenced by her brother's style, and this picture is typical of the strong idealised female found in his oeuvre. It has been suggested that it may be a likeness of Daisy, daughter of Mr Jospeh Ince, exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1870, the year this picture was painted, as the sitter's fingers rest on a daisy in the garland she is wearing.
Labels: Emma Sandys
Saturday, August 28, 2010
John Everett Millais - Afternoon Tea (or The Gossips)
WINNIPEG.- The Winnipeg Art Gallery announced the acquisition through gift of one of the finest paintings created by Sir John Everett Millais, a leading 19th century British artist. The large canvas entitled , Afternoon Tea (or The Gossips) and dating to 1889, was donated by the Honourable Douglas Everett of Winnipeg and his family in memory of his wife Patricia Everett. The painting was adjudged by the Canadian Cultural Property Review Board as being of “outstanding significance and national importance,” with a value of $2.75 million. This extraordinary donation is one of the larges gifts of an individual artwork to the WAG in its 98-year history.
The painting will be unveiled at the WAG’s Annual General Meeting at 7pm, Wednesday, September 22. It will be on view in Gallery 2, one of the six galleries devoted to the long-term display of works from the permanent collection.
“There are only a handful of paintings by Millais in Canadian collections, including those works in the National Gallery of Canada, the Montreal Museum of Fine Art, and the Art Gallery of Ontario,” says WAG Director Dr. Stephen Borys, “so this is a real coup for the WAG.” Borys notes: “Afternoon Tea was one of the few, and certainly the largest, genre paintings by Millais to remain in private hands. For the WAG to acquire it is absolutely wonderful, and we are very grateful to the Everett family for their generous gift to the Gallery and the larger museum community.”
The WAG also owns several ink drawings by Millais, originally part of a sketch book, now rebound in an album.
The exceptional talent of John Everett Millais 1829–1896 (no relation) won him a place at the Royal Academy Schools at the unprecedented age of eleven. While there he met William Holman Hunt and Dante Gabriel Rossetti, with whom he founded the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in 1848. Millais has been called “the presiding artistic genius of his age.” He quickly achieved popular success, not only as a painter but also as a book illustrator, particularly for the works of Anthony Trollope and the poems of Alfred Tennyson. By 1853, Millais had been elected an associate member of the Royal Academy of Arts, and was later elected as full member. He was awarded the title baronet in 1885, and succeeded Frederic Lord Leighton as President of the Royal Academy in 1896.
Afternoon Tea presents a captivating image of childhood-infectious and delightful-with an immediacy of impact, painted with great vivacity. It is the epitome of style that evolved over the last 20 years of Millais’ career, touching on a theme that is consistent throughout his entire career. As with many of his works, the artist endeavored to embrace the broadest possible audience in his celebration of the art of art’s sake aesthetic. Over a century later, the picture is now accessible to a new generation of audiences.
William de Morgan - Jug
Posted by Hermes at 6:00 AM 2 comments:
Labels: William de Morgan
James Talmage White - Ruins of the Temple of Hercules, Cape di Sorrento
first exhibited 1867
Pencil, watercolour and gouache on paper
54.6 x 102.9cm
Labels: James Talmage White
John Brett - Norbury on the Mole
Friday, August 27, 2010
James Collinson - To Let
Price Realized £59,750
oil on canvas, painted oval
24¼ x 18½ in. (51.5 x 47 cm.)
London, Royal Academy, 1857, no. 102.
Birmingham, City Museum and Art Gallery, 1919.
Dublin, Municipal Gallery of Modern Art, 1920.
Collinson was one of the seven founder members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, and this is perhaps his best known picture. Though dextrous and with a brilliant finish it shows little intellectual Pre-Raphaelite purpose however, and presents instead as an exemplary, if ambiguous, piece of Victorian domestic genre, much in the manner of William Powell Frith. A married lady draws a Venetian blind to reveal a sign in the window offering furnished appartments 'To Let'. However, the relationship of the title to the contents of the painting is not immediately obvious, and as the Art Journal commented, 'the point of the title is not very clear'. The picture has always been open to diverse interpretation. When lent to an exhibition at the Leicester Galleries eighty years after it was painted, along with its pendant For Sale, a smaller version of which is offered as the following lot in this sale, the critic of the Times observed: 'There are hints ... in the pair of pictures For Sale and To Let by James Collinson ... that some Victorian artists had pretty shrewd notions about comparative iniquity'. Would a Victorian audience, alert to the 'language of flowers' and the pots containing a lily and a 'Bleeding Heart', have interpreted the subject as a variation of Mr Pickwick's amorous landlady, Mrs Bardell, as popularized by Dickens? The extent to which Collinson was attempting a double-entendre, or any moral purpose, is unclear.
Born in Mansfield, the son of a bookseller, Collinson entered the Royal Academy Schools and exhibited there for the first time in 1847. The attention to detail in The Charity Boy's Debut, so impressed Rossetti that he pronounced Collinson 'a born stunner' and invited him to join the Brotherhood. Collinson later became engaged to Rossetti's poet sister Christina, but she broke it off prior to his return to the Catholic faith, and his entry to Stoneyhurst in 1850. Having been nicknamed 'the doormouse' by fellow members of the P.R.B., and teased by Hunt for needing 'to be waked up at the conclusion of the noisy evenings to receive our salutations', Collinson resigned his membership on the grounds that he could not 'as a Catholic, assist in spreading the artistic opinions of those who were not'. Collinson failed to complete his novitiate, and left the monastery and resumed painting in 1854. He later married the sister-in-law of another Catholic convert, John Rogers Herbert. Between 1847 and 1870 he exhibited seventeen paintings at the Royal Academy and also contributed to the Society of British Artists where he was secretary from 1861 to 1870, and the British Institution. Though principally resident in London, he made frequent visits to Brittany where his son Robert was a seminarian, and it was there that he executed a painting of The Holy Family.
Well known through engravings, a smaller version of this picture exists in the Graves Art Gallery, Sheffield.
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Labels: James Collinson
William Holman Hunt - Fairlight Downs (The Silver Lining) #2
Posted by Hermes at 6:00 AM 3 comments:
William Holman Hunt - Fairlight Downs (The Silver Lining)
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John Brett - Study for Val d'Aosta #2
John Brett - Study for Val d'Aosta
Thursday, August 26, 2010
John William Waterhouse - Phyllis ...
[Portrait of Phyllis. younger Daughter of E.A. Waterlow Esq.. A.R.A.]
signed 1J.W. Waterhouse';
oil on canvas
61 3/4 x 35 1/4in. (156.8 x 89.5cm.)
Commissioned by the sitter's father. Sir Ernest Waterlow, and thence by descent to the present owner
London. Royal Academy, 1895. no.174
The decline of the Victorian passion for literary,and historical subjects in the 1890s led many artists who had specialised in them to move into the more lucrative field of portraiture. The trend is discernible even in the career of such a well established artist as Burne-Jones, who saw his last major subject picture, Love Leading the Pilgrim (Tate Gallery). return to the studio unsold when it was exhibited at the New Gallery in 1897. But the artists chiefly concerned belonged to the next generanon - Fildes, Herkomer, Waterhouse, Dicksee, and others. Waterhouse exhibited his first portrait, a likeness of Mrs Charles Newton-Robinson, at the Royal Academy of 1894, and from then until his death they accounted for a siwifficant proportion of his oevure, although he continued to paint subjects from literature and mythology in his academic adaptation of the Pre-Raphaelite style. Many of his sitters were the women of the Henderson family which patronised him so extensively during his later years.
This picture appeared at the RA a year later than Mrs Newton-Robinson. The subject was the younger daughter of the landscape painter Ernest Albert Waterlow (1850-1919), an almost exact contemporary of Waterhouse and a friend since the early 1870s when they had been fellow students at the Royal Academy Schools. They exhibited at the RA throughout their careers, became Associates and Academicians within a few years of one another, and were both members of the Arts Club in Dover Street. When Waterhouse moved house in 1893, he used Waterhouse's Primrose Hill studio to finish his RA exhibit and gave the address in the catalogue.
Waterlow had all his family painted by well known artists of the day. He himself sat to Alma-Tadema, his mother to Arthur Hacker his wife to William Holyoake, and his elder daughter, Elsa, to A.S. Cope. Phillis had already been drawn in pastel by Marianne Stokes when she sat for the present portrait, which seems to have completed the series. It is undoubtedly one of Waterhouse's best, conveying with great economy of means the fragile personality of a girl at the 'awkward age', standing self consciously in what is. perhaps, her first 'grown up' dress.
Such a touching evocation of teenage gauchness could hardly fail to make is mark with contemporary critics. F.G. Stephens, reviewing the RA exhibition in the Athenaeum, wrote: 'A pretty and tasteful portrait of a child in white, standing against a blue curtain. is, though rather rough, very sweet and true'. A.L. Baldry went further when describing the Waterlow collection in the Studio four years later. Of all the family portraits, he wrote, this was 'the most delightful, and the most persuasive by its beauty of treatment and exquisite appreciation of character ... it is marked ... by a sense of the grace and delicacy of childhood and by a knowledge of youthful individuality that hardly any other painter of our times can be said to possess. Not the least of the merits of the picture is its perfect simplicity ... [It) can, without any exaggeration of praise. be called a masterpiece'. It must have been partly on the strength of this portrait that Waterhouse was elected a full Academician in 1895.
For all the picture's psychological insight, there are no echoes here of Sargent. The whole object of Waterhouse's portraiture was to present a quiet, reflective picture of femininity in keeping with his particular brand of late Pre-Raphaelitism. It is as if he consciously presents an alternative to Sargent's brio and sophistication, leaving J.J. Shannon and his like to follow this line; and no doubt it was precisely his sober yet romantic approach that appealed to the Hendersons and others who went to him as sitters.
On the other hand, the picture does seem to cast a glance at Sargent's fellow American, Whistler, both in its conception as a little white girl', an image Whistler had defined so memorably as long ago as the 1860s, and in its evocation of the vulnerability of childhood, a theme that Whistler repeatedly explored in his later portraiture. Yet the influence of Whistler need not be overstressed. By the mid 1890s the virginal figure in white had become something of a cliche in international Symbolist painting and Waterhouse's contribution to the genre has many parallells. In England the supreme example is Burne-Jones portrait of Lady Windsor (private collection), in which this leading 'Soul', clad in a simple white dress which she can seldom have worn in real life, is seen standing in a mysterious marble hall. It is at least worth noting that this extraordinary image, the ultimate Symbolist portrait and pictorial critique of Sargentian values, was exhibited at the New Gallery in 1895, the came year that Waterhouse showed this picture at the Academy. However, although Lady Windsor had been on the easel for some years, there is no evidence to suggest that Waterhouse had seen it before it appeared in public.
Posted by Hermes at 5:00 PM 2 comments:
John William Waterhouse - Study for Nymphs finding the Head of Orpheus
Lucy Madox Brown - Margaret Roper Rescuing the Head of her Father Sir Thomas More, 1873
Lucy was the oldest of Ford Madox Brown's three surviving children of his first marriage. She later married William Rossetti. After becoming a mother, she painted only rarely; however, she was active politically in the cause of women's suffrage.
A label on the back of the painting describes this scene: "Margaret Roper by night stealthily removes the head of her father Sir Thomas More from London Bridge, A.D. 1534." Lord Chancellor More was executed for refusing to support Henry VIII's divorce, and so in accord with custom, his severed head was placed on a spike at the entrance to London Bridge. His daughter Margaret removed it for Christian burian, an act of courage and filial honor that, together with her reputation for learning, elevated her into histories of "famous women" popular in the 19th century. Had she been caught removing the head, she too could have been charged with treason.
Labels: Lucy Madox Brown
John William Waterhouse - Study of a Young Woman
John William Waterhouse - The Necklace (Study for Lamia)
Posted by Hermes at 6:00 AM 2 comments:
William Holman Hunt - The Old Church at Ewell
Ford Madox Brown - Southend Essex, Looking Towards Sheerness
Labels: Ford Madox Brown
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Frederick Sandys - Love's Shadow
Price Realized £133,150
oil on panel
16 x 12¾ in. (40.6 x 32.5 cm.)
Betty Elzea, Frederick Sandys, 1829-1904, A Catalogue Raisonné, 2001, p. 189, 2.A.100
Betty Elzea notes that this painting was probably traced from a drawing of the same title of 1867, but is enriched by the addition of a jewelled headband and hair ornament. The subject of a single femme fatale, presented half length, owes much to Rossetti, with whom Sandys shared a house in Chelsea in 1866. Sandys reputation amongst his fellow artists was to rise after Rossetti pronounced him 'the greatest of living draughtsmen', but the friendship foundered in 1869 after Rossetti accused Sandys of plagiarism.
The sitter is Sandys's common-law wife, Mary Emma Jones, who abandoned a theatrical career to bear him nine children. She, and her sisters Augusta and Millie, sat to both Sandys and Rossetti: the artists also shared a model in Keomi, the exotic Norfolk gypsy who appears in so much of their work. The composition prefigures that of Proud Maisie of 1868, Sandy's most popular and successful image, which he was to replicate at least thirteen times in various media: the prime version, in oil, is now in the Victoria and Albert Museum. The composition is almost identical to Love's Shadow, except that where in our picture the sitter is chewing on forget-me-nots, in Proud Maisie she draws on a lock of her hair. The picture was to provoke ardent reactions from male admirers. Swinburne in Royal Academy Notes wrote: ' ... the other [study] of a woman's face, is one of his most solid and splendid designs; a woman of rich, ripe, angry beauty, she draws one lock of curling hair through her full and moulded lips, biting it with hard bright teeth, which add something of a tiger's charm to the sleepy and crouching passion of her fair face'. The title, Proud Maisie was taken from Sir Walter Scott's poem, 'The Pride of Youth', which appears at the end of Chapter 40 of The Heart of Midlothian (1818):
Proud Maisie is in the wood,
Walking so early;
Sweet Robin sits on the bush,
Singing so rarely.
"Tell me, thou bonny bird,
When shall I marry me?" -
When six braw gentlemen
Kirkward shall carry ye.'
"Whom makes the bridal bed,
Birdie say truly?" -
"The grey-headed sexton
That delves the grave duly.
"The glow-worm o'er grave and stone
Shall light thee steady.
The owl from the steeple single,
'Welcome, proud lady'".
The picture has become an icon of rapacious female sexuality, and marks a point in Sandys's career before his depictions of women became darker and more obtuse. The abundant hair which Sandys so enjoyed in his wife was to feature in many of the other Pre-Raphaelites' work. Perhaps it is no coincidence that Rossetti was simultaneously painting Lady Lilith (1868) in which Adam's first wife is seen combing her luxuriant hair.
Sandys was born in Norwich, the son of a painter. After working for many years in Norfolk he moved to London in 1851. He first came to the attention of the Pre-Raphaelites in 1857 when he produced an etching entitled A Nightmare which parodied Millais's picture Sir Isumbras at the Ford, shown at the Royal Academy of that year. Being a formidable draughtsman he was also to make a significant contribution to the movement for better book illustration, through his work for The Cornhill, Once a Week, Good Words and other journals. Sandys's later years were spent executing large portrait drawings of the Norfolk gentry, executed in chalk on blue paper in a characteristically meticulous technique. Several survive in that county, and they frequently appear at auction.
(Sir) Francis Bernard Dicksee - Studies
[Composition study for 'Chivalry']
Price Realized £16,730
pencil, watercolour and bodycolour, with gum arabic and with scratching out
13¼ x 9 7/8 in. (33.6 x 25.1 cm.)
Dicksee was in the habit of working out his compositions in terms of watercolour sketches. Another example is the drawing for Romeo and Juliet that was offered for sale by Julian Hartnoll in 1986 (cat. no. 21). The finished picture, now in the Southampton Art Gallery, appeared at the Royal Academy in 1884, only a year before Chivalry was exhibited.
This practice was closely related to Dicksee's early work as an illustrator. He used a similar watercolour-with-bodycolour technique for his designs for Romeo and Juliet and Othello when the plays were issued in Cassell's International Shakespeare in 1884 and 1890. In fact the Southampton picture is a re-working of the frontispiece to Romeo and Juliet.
[Study for the head of the damsel in 'Chivalry']
Price Realized £40,630
pencil and white chalk on grey paper, watermark
9¾ x 7½ in. (24.8 x 19.1 cm.)
Labels: Frank Dicksee
John Everett Millais - A Roundhead Conventicle: A Scene from Sir Walter Scott's 'Peveril of the Peak'
Price Realized £13,145
signed and dated 'J.E.Millais 1841' (lower right, on a roundhead's coat) and with inscription 'This remarkable drawing was made by my brother, Sir John Everett Millais, at the age of 11/12 years. I, myself, was a schoolboy at King's College School and can well remember him at work at it and the great excitement we all felt at home during its execution. I have written ... to guarantee the genuineness of this work as it is almost incredible that it should have come from so young a child. W.H. Millais' (on the reverse)
pencil, watercolour and oil
, heightened with touches of white and with gum arabic on two joined sheets
34¾ x 46¼ in. (88.4 x 117.5 cm.)
William Henry Millais (1828-1899), the artist's elder brother and by descent to
Mrs A.J. Millais by 1898; (+) Christie's, London, 30 July 1924, lot 123 (42 gns to Gooden and Fox on behalf 1st Lord Leverhulme).
Lady Lever Art Gallery, Port Sunlight; Christie's, London, June 1958, lot 72 (unsold at 6 gns).
Lady Lever Art Gallery sale; Christie's, London, 17 October 1958, lot 46 (10 gns to Bratman).
M. Bennett, Artists of the Pre-Raphaelite Circle. The First Generation. Catalogue of Works in the Walker Art Gallery, Lady Lever Art Gallery and Sudley Art Gallery, Liverpool, 1988, p. 199.
London, Royal Academy, Works by the Late Sir John Everett Millais, Bart, P.R.A., Winter 1898, no. 209.
In his biography of his father, J.G. Millais describes this drawing as 'the most elaborate work of (the artist's) early years'. It was executed in 1841, when Millais was eleven or twelve, and his brother, William Henry Millais, later felt it was necessary to put a notice on the back 'guaranteeing' its 'genuiness ... as it is almost impossible that it should have come from so young a child.' Millais had entered the Royal Academy Schools, as their youngest ever student, in 1840, and soon proved his brilliance. He won the silver medal for a drawing from the antique in 1843, exhibited for the first time at the Royal Academy in 1846, and carried off the coveted gold medal in 1847.
This drawing is an illustration to Sir Walter Scott's novel Peveril of the Peak (1831). The story is set at the time of the Civil War, and the incident depicted is the fiery and radical Roundhead conventicle described in Chapter 43.
Julian now doubted not that he was in one of these conventicles which, though contrary to the existing laws, still continued to be regularly held in different parts of London and the suburbs ... About two hundred persons were assembled ..., in an area filled up with benches, as it were for the exercise of worship; and they were all of the male sex, and well armed with pikes and muskets, as well as swords and pistols. Most of them had the appearance of veteran soldiers, now past the middle of life, yet retaining such an appearance of strength as might well supply the loss of youthful agility. They stood, or sat, in various attitudes of stern attention; and, resting on their spears and muskets, kept their eyes firmly fixed on the preacher, who ended the violence of his declamation by displaying from the pulpit a banner, on which was represented a lion, with the motto Vicit Leo ex tribu Judae.
The torrent of mystical yet animating eloquence of the preacher - an old grey-haired man, whom zeal seemed to supply with the powers of voice and action of which years had deprived him - was suited to the taste of his audience, but could not be transferred to these pages without scandal and impropriety. He menaced the rulers of England with all the judgements denounced on those of Moab and Assyria; he called upon the saints to be strong, to be up and doing; and promised those miracles which, in the campaigns of Joshua and his successors the valiant Judges of Israel, supplied all odds against the Amorites, Midianites, and Philistines. He sounded trumpets, opened vials, broke seals and denounced approaching judgments under all the mystical signs of the Apocalypse. The end of the world was announced, accompanied with all its preliminary terrors.
The drawing's provenance offers a fascinating insight into the changing fortunes of Victorian art in the twentieth century. In the possession of the Millais family until 1923, it was then bought by the first Lord Leverhulme, who formed one of the last great collections of Victorian paintings. Indeed, by 1923 the reaction was already far advanced, and Leverhulme himself died two years later. The eclipse lasted until the 1950s and in 1958 the drawing was one of many items that were sold off by the trustees of the Lady Lever Art Gallery. It was the worst possible time to throw them on the market; prices were at rock bottom, and the Millais itself was bought for a mere ten guineas.
However, the tide was about to turn. The 1960s saw the beginnings of a vigorous revival, marked by exhibitions, books and dealing activity. Mary Bennett's Millais exhibition, still the landmark in the artist's rehabilitation, took place in Liverpool and London in 1967, less than a decade after the Lady Lever sale. The Forbes Collection, which was to play a leading role in the revival for over thirty years, was launched in 1970.
We are grateful to Malcolm Warner for his help in preparing this entry.
John Roddam Spencer Stanhope - Orpheus and Eurydice on the Banks of the Styx
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John Roddam Spencer Stanhope - Charon and Psyche
Labels: John Roddam Spencer Stanhope
Edward Reginald Frampton - The Passage of the Holy Grail to Sarras
Labels: Edward Reginald Frampton
Marie Spartali Stillman - The Lady Prays-Desire
Labels: Marie Spartali Stillman
Valentine Cameron Prinsep - Il Barbagianni (The Owl)
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Tuesday, August 24, 2010
William Bell Scott - A Messenger of the New Faith: Rome AD 150 - 'What communion has light with darkness....?'
Price Realized £7,768
A Messenger of the New Faith: Rome AD 150 - 'What communion has light with darkness....?'
signed, indistinctly inscribed and dated 'WILLIAM.BELL. SCOTT.MN. SEP (?) 1867' (lower left), signed and inscribed 'Painted by William B. Scott./33 Elgin Road. Notting Hill. London.W.' (on an old label on the reverse) and further signed and inscribed 'IN ROME.A.D...../William B. Scott.' (on the stretcher)
oil on canvas
28 7/8 x 45 1/8 in. (73.3 x 114.6 cm.)
Edinburgh, Royal Scottish Academy, 1868, no. 300.
As the inscription on the back records, the picture was painted at 33 Elgin Road, Notting Hill, Scott's address from 1864, (when he settled in London on giving up the mastership of the Government School of Design in Newcastle), to 1870, when he moved to Bellevue House, Cheyne Walk, Chelsea, to be nearer his old friend D.G. Rossetti. The painting in the Collection by Scott's mistress, Alice Boyd, also seems to have been painted in Elgin Road.
The picture shows a girl who has been converted to Christianity remonstrating with a group of pagans in Rome in AD 150. This was during the benign reign of Antoninus Pius, before the persecution of Christians had begun. The symbolic use of light in the picture - the convert bringing daylight into the darkened chamber occupied by the pagans - is very obvious, and indeed was emphasised by the quotation attached to the title when the picture was exhibited in 1868.
It is typical that Scott should be painting a classical subject in the late 1860s, a period which saw the beginnings of the late Victorian classical revival. Although the phenomenon is associated mainly with artists such as Leighton and Poynter, many of the Pre-Raphaelites were affected to a lesser degree. Parallels to Scott's flirtation with classicism can be found in the work of Millais, Rossetti, Burne-Jones and others.
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Frederick Sandys - Perdita
Frederick Sandys - Portrait of Julia Smith Caldwell
oil on canvas
44 x 29 1/2in. (112 x 75cm.)
The trio came from a distinguished Connecticut family who used to visit England in the 1880's and '90s for the shooting and social life. Julia married Loftus Joseph Wigram Arkwright (1866-19501 of Parndon Hall. Essex. on 6 June 1894.
The Caldwella had some colourful connections. Julia's uncle, Jack Caldwell, was largely responsible for starting the Spanish-American war over Cuba in 1898. Due to a misunderstanding, a despatch he sent to the New York Tribune resulted in the USS Maine being sent to Havana, where the Spaniards had replaced the mooring buoy with a mine. The Maine was sunk, thus precipitating the war. Julia's niece, Diana Caldwell, was the femme fatale in the 'White Mischief' case in Kenya in 1940. Lord Errol, Diana's lover, was murdered, and her husband, Sir Delves Broughton, was tried for the murder and acquitted. There are still Caldwells living in in Stamford, Connecticut.
The painting was executed at Easton Lodge. Essex, the home of the Earl and Countess of Warwick, with whom Julia had made friends; the house has now been demolished, but the picture's background can be identified. 'Daisy' Warwick was an extravapnt eccentric who threw lavish parties at Easton and gave away diamonds as prizes. She and Julia collected stamps and are said to have been 'friendly rivals.
Sandys was an exceptionally slow and meticulous worker, and there is a letter to his daughter Winifred, still in the possession of his funily, complaining that he could 'not get more than three hours a day for sitting from Miss Caldwell' A preliminary study for the portrait is in a private collection.
Simeon Solomon - Beatrice
Arthur Hughes - Silver and Gold
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Edward Robert Hughes - Bertuccio's Bride
Labels: Edward Robert Hughes
Monday, August 23, 2010
John William Waterhouse - Study for the Lady of Shalott
Hammer Price with Buyer's Premium: 97,440 GBP
oil on canvas
91½ by 52cm., 36 by 20½in.
'Out flew the web and floated wide;
The mirror crack'd from side to side;
''The Curse is come upon me,'' cried
The Lady of Shalott.
(Alfred Tennyson, The Lady of Shalott, part III, lines 42-45)
The name of John William Waterhouse is perhaps as synonymous with The Lady of Shallot as Alfred Tennyson, whose epic poem was the stimulus for so many depictions of the fated heroine imprisoned and cursed; damned for an unspecified crime of the heart and consumed with unrequited love. Although other artists such as Byam-Shaw, Arthur Hughes, Sidney Harold Meteyard, William Maw Egley and Dante Gabreil Rossetti, depicted the Lady of Shallot, it was Waterhouse and William Holman Hunt who painted the most memorable canvases, which are now icons of Victorian art.
Waterhouse had first painted Tennyson's damned lady in the canvas of 1888 which is now so well-known on the walls of Tate Britain and is certainly one of the most famous and well-loved of all Victorian Pictures. The Tate version depicts the moment described in part IV of the poem, which proceeds the moment depicted in the present picture:
'And at the closing of the day
She loosed the chain, and down she lay;
The broad stream bore her far away,
The Lady of Shalott.'
Waterhouse felt an immense attraction to The Lady of Shalott in much the same way that Rossetti connected himself to the story of Dante's romance for Beatrice and Burne-Jones associated himself with the court of King Arthur. In The Lady of Shalott, Waterhouse found the ideal figure of tragedy and romance, for his sensitive yet dramatic conception of event and emotion. Vulnerable, beautiful and consigned to the fact that she will die for love, she is the archetypical Princess imprisoned in the tower, a kind of medieval Andromeda or Andromache, bound by circumstances beyond their control but stoic until the end.
It is certainly not the case that Waterhouse returned time and time again to the subject merely to try to recapture the popularity he had gained with his 1888 canvas Waterhouse simply felt so stimulated by Tennyson's words and recognised that the poem contained more depth and drama than could be captured in one painting. Never returning to the same moment, Waterhouse selected the most significant and pictorially rich incidents from the poem, each picture being startlingly unique from the one before it. As late as 1916 he painted his last of the series 'I am Half-Sick of Shadows', Said The Lady of Shalott' (Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto) depicting part of the narrative which preceeds all other canvases of the subject.
The present picture is a study for Waterhouse' well-known second painting 'The Lady of Shallot' which was inspired by the climax of the tale, completed in 1894 (Leeds City Art Gallery) as depicted by William Holman Hunt in his canvas now in the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford. Any artist attempting to paint this moment could not have helped but be inspired by Hunt's version, but Waterhouse also managed to instill his own personal approach to art in his canvas. Less constrained by claustrophobic detail, Waterhouse's Lady is more human in her reactions and appearance and the overall effect is less staged and artificial. Waterhouse's picture captures more of the spirit of the maiden's awakening intended by Tennyson 'the new born-love for something, for someone in the wide world from which she has been so long secluded, takes her out of the region of shadows into that of realities.' (Hallam Tennyson, Alfred, Lord Tennyson, A Memoir by His Son, New York, 1897, pg. 117)
It would seem that Waterhouse's sketch was the first canvas begun in preparation for the Leeds picture and contains much of the movement and drama which is lost in the finished painting, the paint applied with an energy and expression which is astounding considering the date of the picture.
Sketchbook drawings prove that this picture preceeds another oil sketch (Falmouth Art Gallery) in which the mirror is a different shape to the one found in the initial pencil sketches and this study, becoming rather conventionally rounded, harking back to Hunt's famous canvas. Hobson suggested that Waterhouse' initial inclusion of a rectangular mirror was a significant desire on the part of the artist not to duplicate Hunt's composition and it is unfortunate that he later changed his mind. The Falmouth picture is also a little more restrained and prettified, loosing much of the tension which makes this sketch so incredibly powerful and engaging.
The pose of the woman derives from Waterhouse's earlier painting of melodrama 'Consulting the Oracle' in which the soothsayer has a similar expression of enquiry and anxiety. She stands gazing out of the pictorial space and we, as the viewer, take the role of Lancelot upon whom the Lady's gaze is absorbed. She is only barely aware of the threads of her tapestry loom which have been brought to life by the curse which forbid her to look from the window, and whirl around her in terrifying loops. The mirror, through which she was able to view the world has already cracked and her fate is sealed but she is blissfully unaware. She sees and hears nothing but Lancelot joyfully singing in the marshes around her island-prison, so strong is her desire for this man she will never meet.
A photograph showing Waterhouse working upon this sketch in the early stages of its genesis shows how fond he was of the subject, choosing this picture from all the others to be placed upon the easle in this formal portrait photograph.
In 1894, the year that the finished canvas of 'The Lady of Shalott' was exhibited to great acclaim at the Royal Academy, a contemporary critic wrote of Waterhouse's position as an artist; 'a place which he shares with no one else. He has the reputation of being an innovator of judicious and well-balanced views; he is, with justice, given by the popular voice a position among the most capable of his profession... one of the rarest types of modern artists...who, having had a past, has still left a future.' (Hobson, 1989, pg 53)
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Arthur Hughes - Bed-Time
Labels: Arthur Hughes
Frederick Sandys - Josiah and (his wife) Anita Smith Caldwell
[Portrait of Josiah Caldwell; and Portrait of his Wife, Anita Smith Caldwell]
one signed, inscribed and dated 'Josiah Caldwell: 1888/F. Sandy's' the other signed. inscribed and dated 'Anita Smith Caldwell: 1888/F. Sandys';
pencil and coloured chalks
27 x 20in. (68.5 x 50.8cm.)
a pair (2)
Commissioned by the sitters and thence by descent to the present owners
Josiah and Anita Caldwell were wealthy Americans from a distinguished Connecticut family. They rented a house in England (The Firs, Brentwood) to enjoy the sporting season and launch their daughter Julia into English society. She married Loftus Arkwright of Parndon Hall. Essex, in 1894, and was herself painted by Sandys
We are grateful to Betty Elzea for her help in preparing this.
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