Monday, September 13, 2010

John Everett Millais - Group portrait of Harry Reid Lemprière, Arthur Reid Lemprière and Emily Lemprière

Price Realized £3,120

Group portrait of Harry Reid Lemprière, Arthur Reid Lemprière and Emily Lemprière
signed with initials and dated 'JEM/1847' (lower right) and further inscribed 'L' (lower left) and with inscription 'This is an original Drawing by/Sir J. E. Millais. Portraits/of Harry Reid Lemprière /Arthur Reid Lemprière/& Empily Lemprière done in 1847/with his initials in corner/Arthur Reid Lemprière/afterwards "Millais" model in "The Huguenot".' (on an old label attached to the backboard)
8¾ x 11 3/8 in. (22.3 x 29 cm.)

The drawing was made in 1847 when Millais, aged seventeen, was staying with his Jersey friends the Lemprières at Ewell in Surrey. In later life Arthur Lemprière contributed reminiscences of Millais as a boy to J.G. Millais' Life of his father, including a description of a drawing, now in a private collection, which relates to the present study: 'It was in 1847 that I remember his drawing all the Lemprière family at Ewell standing round a table in the drawing-room, watching eagerly a Twelfth-cake being cut by my eldest sister. It was all so cleverly grouped, and included my father and mother, my five brothers, seven sisters, myself, and himself. It was a picture we all greatly valued, as, in addition to the clever grouping, the likenesses were so excellent' (J.G. Millais, Life and Letters of Sir John Everett Millais, London, 1899, I, p. 32).

As the writer of the inscription on the backboard observed, Arthur Lemprière was later to be the model for the hero of Millais' painting A Huguenot (Makins Collection), exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1852. He was still only fifteen or sixteen when the sittings took place (see The Pre-Raphaelites, exh. Tate Gallery, London, 1984, cat. no. 41).

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