Lot 108: Edward Robert Hughes (British, 1851-1914)


November 10, 1998
New York, NY, US

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Description: THE SHREW KATHERINA signed and dated 1896 pastel and gouache on paper 27 7/8 by 19 7/8 in. 70.8 by 50.5 cm. Edward Robert Hughes was one of the leading watercolorists of the Victorian era and was highly respected by his peers. He trained under the tuteluge of the leading Pre-Raphaelite painter William Holman Hunt, one of the founders of the Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood. Hughes was also schooled in the Pre-Raphaelite aesthetic by his uncle Arthur Hughes (1832-1915), who was a noted follower of Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-82), Edward Burne-Jones (1775-1862), and other Pre-Raphaelites. Hughes' elegant and delicate watercolor techniques earned him critical and financial success in London and abroad. He was best known for his illustrations of literary subjects, including the works of Boccaccio and Shakespeare. Hughes' portrait of Katherina, the fiesty protagonist of The Taming of the Shrew, was executed in 1896, shortly after he was elected to full membership in the prestigious Royal Society of Painters in Watercolour. Hughes has virtually eliminated narrative content from this work, and instead he portrays Katherina as a beautiful, elegantly dressed and pensive young woman absorbed in her own thought rather than in the world around her. Hughes' capacity for rendering delicate and translucent effects is clearly evident in the handling of her sumptuous apricot brocade costume and the ornate furniture, features that were typical of the style pioneered by the Pre-Raphaelite painters.
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