Lot 328: Valentine Cameron Prinsep (1838-1904)

Christie's

November 22, 2006
London, United Kingdom

More About this Item


Description: Sweet Repose
oil on canvas
25 x 30 in. (63.5 x 76.2 cm.)
Artist or Maker: Valentine Cameron Prinsep (1838-1904)
Exhibited: Possibly London, Grosvenor Gallery, 1885, no. 118 (as 'Dolce far Niente').
Provenance: E.S. Bond, Tamar House, Smethwick; his sale, Christie's, London, 19 November 1928, lot 37 (2 gns to Waters).
with Frost & Reed, London.
Anonymous sale [Frost & Reed]; Christie's, London, 6 July 1951, lot 151 (as 'Repose', 3 gns to Dent).
Notes: This idyllic portrayal of a girl sleeping in a hammock on a summer evening represents Prinsep at his most instinctive and best. A figurative painter who adapted to the cultural influences of his time, from Pre-Raphaelitism to neo-classicism, Prinsep excelled in the art of composition, gracefully articulating the human form, whether as a single entity or in a group. An outstanding example of the latter is his densely populated evocation of A Venetian Gaming House in the sixteenth century (Christie's, London, 24 November 2004, lot 37; £111,650).

Its saleroom provenance indicates that the present lot has long been known as Sweet Repose, but it also seems a likely candidate for Prinsep's unlocated Grosvenor Gallery exhibit of 1885: Dolce far Niente. The sophistication of the girl's dress, and her Japanese parasol, belong to the mid-1880s, an era of full-blown Aestheticism. The commercial proponent of the movement, Sir Arthur Lasenby Liberty, had expanded his Regent Street store in 1885; its 'Eastern Bazaar' was to equip a generation of painters with inspiration, from Dante Gabriel Rossetti to James McNeill Whistler.

Prinsep himself was a member of the Holland Park Circle, who decorated their London villas in the Aesthetic taste. His affability and family connections - he was the son of Indian civil servant and Sara Pattle, one of the legendary Pattle sisters - placed him at the centre of bohemian society. He famously inspired the character Taffy in George Du Maurier's fictional account of the Parisian Vie de Bohème, Trilby (1894).

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Victorian & Traditionalist Pictures

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November 22, 2006, 12:00 AM GMT

London, United Kingdom