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).
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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).
VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 17.5% on the buyer's premium.