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Lot 115: Arthur Hughes (1832-1915)
June 6, 1997
London, United Kingdom
Description: A Study for 'The Convent Boat' signed 'ARTHUR HUGHES' (lower right) oil on canvas 141/4 x 231/4 in. (36.2 x 59.1 cm.) NOTES This work appears to be a preparatory study for The Convent Boat, Hughes's masterpiece of the 1870s, which was offered at Christie's, London, in 1992. The final version depicts an affluent family mourning on a bank as their beloved daughter and sister, dressed in novitiate white, is rowed across a moat to enter the convent from which she will never emerge. A sense of loss and melancholy pervades the picture, reinforced by the fading light and autumnal landscape. The effect of the whole found parallels in French Symbolism and the painting was twice discussed by the French critic Ernest Chesneau ( La Peinture Anglaise, 1882, p. 201, and 'Peintures Anglais Contemporains', L'Art, II, 1894, p. 399.) The canvas, which measures 37 x 61 in., was originally exhibited at the Royal Academy of 1874, no. 584. A smaller version, measuring 171/2 x 281/2 in., was included in the exhibition The Aesthetic Movement and the Cult of Japan mounted at the Fine Art Society in 1972, no. 24, and again in the exhibition Pr„raffaeliten at the Staatliche Kunsthalle, Baden-Baden, 1973-4, no. 84.