Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Frederick Sandys - The Laurel Wreath

Signed, indistinctly inscribed and dated 1902
Coloured chalks on pale blue paper

Frederick Sandys was one of the finest draughtsmen of the Victorian period. Until his very last days he was drawing almost entirely in chalk in his Victorian house on Hogarth Road. His family became the principle subjects of his work during these years and his youngest daughter Gertrude was the sitter for The Laurel Wreath.
Gertrude or 'Girlie,' as she was nicknamed by her family, was one of the nine children of the artist and the actress Mary Jones. Mary was the third love of Sandy's life with her stunning looks and flowing, curly red hair. In The Laurel Wreath, Gertrude sits in profile holding a cascade of spring flowers, her embroidered dress carefully observed. With her mother's russet gold hair, Sandys's last muse has become the reincarnation of the young Mary, who he also continued to draw as though she were a twenty year old. This fancy portrait is appropriately titled The Laurel Wreath, a trophy long associated with the spirit and inspiration ofpoetry. The Greeks would crown their poets with laurel and put the leaves under their pillows at night to fire their imaginations. Gertrude later married Lionel Crane, the eldest son of the artist, designer and book illustrator, Walter Crane.
Frederick Sandys entered Rossetti's circle in 1857. Most of his paintings and finished drawings are bust length pictures of women. These are Rossetti-like in spirit (compare Rossettit's Portrait of Alexa Wilding and Proserpine) which display Sandys's precision and mastery of technique in both oil and coloured chalks." Sandys's skill of composition also appears in his illustrations. Sandys, Millais and Frederic Walker are the three leading figures in the illustration revival of the 1860s.

No comments: