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Lot 66: James Collinson (1825-1881)


by Christie's

November 30, 2001

London, United Kingdom

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Description: The Charity Boy's Debut signed and dated 'J. Collinson 1847' (lower left) oil on panel 22 3/4 x 29 3/4 in. (57.8 x 75.5 cm.) PROVENANCE David Solomon. with Richard Green, London. LITERATURE Athenaeum, 9 April 1881, p. 499. P.H. Bate, The English Pre-Raphaelite Painters, 1899, p. 53. H.C. M‚rillier, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1899, p. 19. W. Holman Hunt, Pre-Raphaelitism and the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, 1905, p. 164. L. Cust, Dictionary of National Biography, 1908, vol. IV, p. 383. T. Bodkin, 'James Collinson', Apollo, May 1940, p. 128. C. Wood, Dictionary of British Art. Volume IV. Victorian Painters, vol. 1, London, 1978. p. 99. Valerie Cox, 'The Works of James Collinson: 1825-1881', The Review, vol. IV, no. 3, Autumn 1996, pp. 1, 8, & 13. EXHIBITION London, Royal Academy, 1847, no. 187. NOTES This picture is of considerable interest as it so impressed Rossetti that he invited Collinson to join the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in 1848. In his reminiscences, Holman Hunt recalled the surprise of all, when Collinson, who as a student at the Royal Academy Schools had been overlooked by his peers, exhibited the picture at the Royal Academy exhibition of 1847. 'To represent the bashfulness of a poor boy appearing in the uniform of his parish was an honest idea, and although the invention did not go far beyond the initial conception, the pencilling was phenomenally painstaking throughout. It transpired that he had roused himself of late and entered the Roman Church, and had summoned effort to paint this picture. All the students blamed themselves for having ignored Collinson, but Rossetti went further, and declared that "Collinson was a born stunner", and at once struck up an intimate friendship with him. It will be seen that Rossetti had only wanted our enthusiasm to make him a great force in the battle. Accordingly we gave him permission to put the secret initials on his works, to attend our monthly meetings and to receive us in his turn.' (W. Holman Hunt, Pre-Raphaelitism and the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, op. cit. ) Collinson hence became one of the founder members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Between 1849-1850 he was briefly engaged to Christina Rossetti, but in 1851 he resigned from the Brotherhood and retired to a monastery. Although he returned to painting in 1854, he principally painted small subjects of a domestic and humorous character, leaving this picture to be considered one of his finest works.

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