Thursday, October 6, 2011

John William Waterhouse - The Favourites of the Emperor Honorius

signed l.r.: J.W.W.
oil on board
20 by 28cm.; 7¾ by 11in.
ESTIMATE 3,000-5,000 GBP
Lot Sold: 10,000 GBP

This is an early sketch for Waterhouse's painting of 1883 (Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide), the first of his pictures to be bought by a public art gallery. It is thought to be an illustration to Wilkie Collins' novel Antonina; or, The
Fall of Rome written in 1850. The Favourites of the Emperor Honorius depicts the emperor Honorius (reigned 395-423A.D.) at his palace at Ravenna, idly feeding his pet guinea-fowl and doves with little regard for his besieged people at Rome. In the background is the figure of an imperial guard and the sketched figures of Honorius' courtiers.

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