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by Christie's

356 lots with images

February 19, 2003

London, United Kingdom

Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, O.M., R.A. (1836-1912)

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Description: A Harvest Festival signed and inscribed 'L Alma Tadema/OP CCXX' (on the altar) oil on panel 121/2 x 9 3/8 in. (31.8 x 23.8 cm.) PROVENANCE Commissioned by Cor M. van Gogh, Amsterdam, 1880. Purchased by Theo van Gogh, 19 Boulevard Montmartre, Paris, 17 March 1881 for 17,500 francs. with Goupil & Cie (now Boussod, Valadon & Cie.), London, 11 June 1881; sold to James Barrow, Liverpool. Purchased by Exchange Gallery, Liverpool, 18 May 1918, lot 262 (305 gns to Agnews, on behalf of W.H. Barratt, London). Anon. sale, Frederick Muller, Amsterdam, December 1960, lot 284. B. de Geus van den Heuvel; (+) Sotheby Mak van Waay B.V., Amsterdam, 26 April 1976, lot 191a, when acquired by the present owner. ENGRAVED Hand-printed etching by Leopold Lowenstam, published by the Art Journal, 1909, as their Premium Plate of the year. LITERATURE Unpublished C. Vosmaer, L. Alma-Tadema and C.J.G. Vosmaer, Alma-Tadema Catalogue Raisonn‚, unpublished manuscript, Leiden, c. 1885, with some later additions, no. 257. Letter from Alma-Tadema to Leopold Lowenstam, 25 February 1891, Brigham Young University, Utah. Published A.J. Beavington, 'Contemporary Art - Poetic and Positive: Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Alma-Tadema', Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, CXXXIII, March 1883, p. 405. Art Journal, 1909, illus. p. 31. R. Dircks, 'The Later Work of Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, O.M., R.A., R.W.S.', Art Journal, Christmas Supplement, 1910, p. 30. C. Forbes, The Royal Academy (1837-1901) Revisited, exh. cat., 1975, the engraving illus. p. 20. V.G. Swanson, Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema: The Painter of the Victorian Vision of the Ancient World, London, 1977, pp. 34, 138. V.G. Swanson, The Biography and Catalogue Raisonn‚ of the Paintings of Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, London, 1990, p. 212, no. 263, illus. p. 404. R.J. Barrow, Lawrence Alma-Tadema, London, 2001, p. 95. EXHIBITION London, Grosvenor Gallery, Winter 1882, no. 112. Liverpool, Walker Art Gallery, Grand Loan Exhibition of Pictures, 1886, no. 813, lent by James Barrow. Birmingham, Royal Birmingham Society of Artists, 1896, no. 342. Empires Restored, Elysium Revisited, 1991-2, no. 24. Amsterdam, Van Gogh Museum, and Paris, Mus‚e d'Orsay, Theo van Gogh, 1857-1891: Marchand de tableaux, Collectionneur, FrŠre de Vincent, 1999-2000, no. 1. NOTES Alma-Tadema moved to London in 1870, and over the next decade he painted a series of pictures of bacchantes that are amongst his most sensuous works. It is rare for Alma-Tadema to depict a lively figure in motion, but in the present picture the swirling action of the dancer is contrasted with the stiff poses of the other figures in the composition. This striking contrast reinforces the notion that the dance itself and the movement of the maenad is the focus of the painting. It has been suggested that the flute player is a self-portrait of Alma-Tadema (fig. 1). The dancing bacchante is similar to the central figure in a work from the previous year entitled On the Road to the Temple of Ceres (lot 25). This pose reflects two well-known ancient sculptures, a marble figure of a dancer attributed to the Hellenistic sculptor Lysippos (4th century B.C.; Museo Nazionale, Rome) and a marble figure known as the Berlin Dancer, which was acquired by the Staatliche Museum in Berlin in 1874. Alma-Tadema would almost certainly have been familiar with these sculptures, and possibly owned photographs of them in addition to engraved illustrations. A Harvest Festival was painted in 1880 at the height of Alma-Tadema's career. That year he exhibited On the Road to the Temple of Ceres, together with My Sister Is Not In (Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore), at the Royal Academy, and he showed Ave Caesar! Io Saturnalia! (Akron Art Institute, Ohio) at the Royal Akademie in Berlin. It was also the year that he was elected a member of the Imperial Academy of Vienna and awarded the Prussian Order of Merit and Order of Frederick the Great. The following year the Grosvenor Gallery held a retrospective exhibition of 185 of his paintings and drawings, including the present picture. The picture was commissioned by the Amsterdam dealer Cor M. Van Gogh (1824-1908), and sold to his nephew Theo Van Gogh (1857-1891) in 1881. Theo, himself an influential dealer and promoter of the avant-garde, best known for his role in supporting the career of his brother Vincent, had just been appointed as director of the Boulevard Montmartre branch of Goupil & Cie. He bought A Harvest Festival, as 'Fˆte c‚r‚ale', for 17,500 francs and sent the painting to the London branch of Goupil & Cie. There it was sold on 11 June 1881 to the Liverpool collector James Barrow for 25,000 francs. Prior to its entry into the Forbes Collection, A Harvest Festival was owned by B. de Geus van den Heuvel (1886-1976). Van den Heuvel formed the major part of his collection in the mid 1930s, although he continued to buy until 1960. The present picture, purchased from Frederick Muller, Amsterdam, in December 1960, and was one of his last acquisitions. His collection covered all periods of Dutch and Flemish painting, and such were the demands on it for exhibitions in museums throughout the world that it was seldom complete in his home in Nieuwersluis. He was one of the last collectors of Dutch painting on such an extensive scale, and it was his wish that, after his death, his collection should be auctioned in its entirety in Amsterdam. A Harvest Festival was acquired for the Forbes Collection at his posthumous sale.

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Robert Huskisson (fl.1832-d.1854)

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Description: Titania asleep There sleeps Titania some time of the night Lull'd in these flowers with dances and delight A Midsummer Night's Dream, Act II, scene 1. with inscription 'Schoolroom' (on the reverse) oil on panel 113/4 x 14 in. (29.9 x 35.6 cm.) PROVENANCE The Earl of Harewood (The Harewood Charitable Trust), Harewood House, Leeds, Yorkshire; Christie's, 26 July 1985, when acquired by the present owner. ENGRAVED By Fred Heath for The Art-Union, 1848 (the S.C. Hall version) LITERATURE C. Wood, Fairies in Victorian Art, London, 2000, p. 70, illus. p. 71 and detail p. 70. EXHIBITION The Victorian Imagination, 1998, no. 6. NOTES Huskisson is regarded as one of the major exponents of Victorian fairy painting, although he was a far less substantial artist than either Richard Dadd (lot 86) or No‰l Paton (lot 235), and he lacked the fantastic and whimsical imagination of his slightly younger contemporary J.A. Fitzgerald (lot 49). He was born Robert Locking Huskinson [ sic ] at Langar, Nottinghamshire, the son of Henry Huskinson, a local portrait painter, but in 1839, when he was twenty, he moved to London with his younger brother Leonard, who was also a painter. Changing their name to Huskisson, the brothers exhibited at the Royal Academy, the British Institution and the Society of British Artists, but Robert ceased to exhibit in 1854, possibly for health reasons. He was still only forty-two when he died seven years later. Huskisson belonged to the circle of Samuel Carter Hall (1800-1889), a prolific man of letters who not only produced innumerable books on every aspect of popular culture but edited the Art Journal, the leading (though deeply conservative) art magazine of the day. Mrs Hall, who was her husband's intellectual superior, was also a fertile author, many of their books being produced in tandem. The Halls owned examples of Huskisson's work, and, together with No‰l Paton, William Frost, Clarkson Stanfield, Thomas Creswick and others, he contributed illustrations to Mrs Hall's Midsummer Eve: A Fairy Tale of Love (1848). Huskisson was also well know as a copyist, and carried out work of this kind for the great collector Lord Northwick (1769-1859). His picture of the Picture Gallery at Northwick's country house, Thirlestane House, Cheltenham (Yale Center for British Art, New Haven), was exhibited at the British Institution in 1847. William Powell Frith mentions Huskisson in his autobiography, writing that although he had 'painted some original pictures of considerable merit,' he was 'a very common man, entirely uneducated. I doubt if he could read or write; the very tone of his voice was dreadful.' Most of Huskisson's fairy paintings take their subjects from A Midsummer Night's Dream or The Tempest, and the present example is no exception. It is also typical in owing an obvious debt to the stage. The action is seen through a painted arch reminiscent of a proscenium arch in a theatre, with symbolic figures painted in monochrome on the lateral pilasters in a manner still found in some theatres built or refurbished during the Victorian era. As for the figures ('actors' might be a better word), they seem to be caught in the gaslight or limelight that revolutionised the early Victorian theatre, and were never more effectively employed than in the ballets and pantomimes in which fairies so often played a central role. We might be watching one of the so-called 'transformation scenes' which still conclude traditional pantomimes, in which all the resources of theatrical artistry combine to elicit gasps of wonder and delight from the audience. The picture is a version of one now in the Tate Gallery which was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1847, belonged to S.C. Hall, and was later in the collection of Charles and Lavinia Handley-Read. The two versions are approximately the same size, and almost identical in detail. An engraving after the S.C. Hall version was published by the Art-Union in 1848 (facing p. 306), with the following enthusiastic account: This little picture is wonderful in every part; there is not a portion of it which has not been studied and painted with a truth and delicacy inimitable: in conception it is truly original, and in execution admirable. The work was hung most advantageously at the Royal Academy, and attracted very great attention, inasmuch as the name of the painter was heretofore comparatively unknown. As we anticipated, however, it brought him numerous commissions, and we shall be greatly mistaken if we do not find him, ere long, occupying a distinguished place among the leading artists of our time. No doubt it was the enthusiastic reception of the picture at the R.A. of 1847 that encouraged Huskisson to make a second version. Our picture can hardly be more than a year later than the original. The Victorian Fairy Painting exhibition which was held at the Royal Academy, London, and elsewhere in 1997 included not only the Tate picture but a very similarly conceived subject from The Tempest, 'Come unto these Yellow Sands ' (no. 29, illustrated in catalogue). This too is said to date from 1847 and to have belonged to S.C. Hall.

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John Martin (1789-1854)

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Description: Pandemonium signed and dated 'J. Martin./1841' (lower right) oil on canvas 481/2 x 72 5/8 in. (123.2 x 184.4 cm.) in the artist's original frame PROVENANCE Bought from the artist in 1841 by Benjamin Hick of Bolton, his sale, untraced, about February 1843 (180 gns., with The Celestial City, to J.C. Grundy for George Whiteley (1825-1873), of Blackburn and Halifax, and by descent to his great-grandson Sir Hugo Baldwin Huntington-Whiteley, 3rd Bt., of Ripple Hall, Tewkesbury. with Peter Nahum Ltd., London, 1994, from whom acquired by the present owner. LITERATURE M.L. Pendred, John Martin: His Life and Times, London, 1923, pp. 145, 280. T. Balston, John Martin 1789-1854: His Life and Works, London, 1947, pp. 206, 274 (as a watercolour). R. James, 'Two Paintings by John Martin', Burlington Magazine, XCIV, no. 593, August 1952, pp. 234-5, fig. 25 and (detail of frame) fig. 26. C. Neve, 'Art and the Rise of Industry', Country Life, 13 June 1968, fig. 3. M. Pointon, Milton in English Art, Manchester, 1970, pp. 193-7, and p. 241 (n. 8), pl. 175. C. Johnstone, John Martin, London, 1974, p. 92, illustrated. W. Feaver, The Art of John Martin, Oxford, 1975, pp. 81, 165-6, and 231 (n.38), 238 (n. 41), pl. 124. C. Neve, 'To Pandemonium by Train', Country Life, 30 October 1975, pp. 1148-9, fig. 4. The Times, 10 June 1994, illus. The Sunday Times, 19 June 1994, p. 9. B.L. Scherer, 'Victoria... Victor!', Art and Auction, February 1996, p. 75, illus. N. Wolf, Malerei der Romantic, K”ln, London, Madrid, New York, Paris and Tokyo, 1999, p. 71, illus. in colour. A. Blhm and L. Lippincott, Light: The Industrial Age 1750-1900, exhibition catalogue, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam and Carnegie Museum, Pittsburgh, London, 2000, p. 128, illus. in colour. EXHIBITION London, Royal Academy, 1841, no. 570. On loan to the Birmingham City Art Gallery, 1952. London, Tate Gallery, The Romantic Movement: Fifth Exhibition to Celebrate the Tenth Anniversary of the Council of Europe, 1959, no. 247, illus. pl. 65. Manchester, City Art Gallery, Art and the Industrial Revolution, 1968, no. 39. Milan, Palazzo Reale, Pittura Inglese 1660-1840, 1975, no. 121. London, Hazlitt, Gooden and Fox, John Martin 1789-1854, 1975, no. 18, illus. pl. 18, lent by H. B. Huntington-Whiteley. Glasgow, Lighthouse Galleries, Alexander Thomas: The Unknown Genius, 1995. The Victorian Imagination, 1998, no. 1, illus. Paris, Grand Palais, Visions du futur, 2000 - 2001, no. 71, illus. pl. 107. Pittsburgh, Carnegie Museum of Art, Light: The Industrial Age 1750-1900, Art & Science, Technology & Society, 2001, pp. 128 and 245, illus. New Haven, Yale Center for British Art, and San Marino, Huntington Library, Art Collection, and Botanical Gardens, Great British Paintings from American Collections, Holbein to Hockney, 2002. NOTES This painting represents the climax of Martin's interest in Milton's Paradise Lost, an important element of his development of the 'historical landscape', based on the large canvases of J.M.W. Turner of the early years of the nineteenth century, in particular The Fifth Plague of Egypt (exhibited at the Royal Academy, 1800; Indianapolis Museum of Art; fig.1) and Apollo and Python (Royal Academy 1811; Tate Britain). Turner himself looked back to Richard Wilson and, indirectly, to Claude and to Nicolas Poussin, above all his Deluge which Turner had studied at the Louvre during his visit to Paris in 1802. Martin made something special of the genre, emphasising its theatrical elements in an individual technique based in part on his experience of glass and china-painting. He himself inspired rivalry and emulation among a number of his near contemporaries such as Francis Danby, Samuel Colman and Thomas Cole, anticipating the last-named in his grouping of works in pairs or threes. Pandemonium was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1841 together with a companion painting of The Celestial City and River of Bliss (this shared the early provenance of Pandemonium up to the Huntington-Whiteleys, and was also for some time in the Forbes Magazine Collection; now in a private collection and on loan to the J.B. Speed Museum, Louisville, Kentucky; fig.2); both are illustrations to Paradise Lost . The Celestial City was exhibited with a reference to Book III, lines 374-5, but the comparable plate in the Paradise Lost mezzotints quotes Book XI, line 78; on 9 August 1852 Martin wrote to John Hick, son of the first owner of the two pictures, saying that he was no longer sure as to 'the exact passage... which I intended to illustrate'. In any case, it was clearly designed as a bold contrast to Pandemonium, which illustrates Book I, lines 710-15: following the fall of Satan and the Rebel Angels, Anon out of the earth a fabric huge Rose like and exhalation, with the sound Of dulcet symphonies and voices sweet, Built like a temple, where pilasters round Were set, and Doric pillars overlaid With golden architrave... Martin's painting was inspired not only by Milton's text but also by P.J. de Loutherbourg's immensely successful Eidophusikon, a kind of animated sound-light scenic effect, and by the contemporary architecture of London such as the immense water-gates of Somerset House, the arcade of Carlton House Terrace, and Charles Barry's perspective plans for the new Houses of Parliament. The composition was developed from Martin's 1824 Paradise Lost mezzotint (fig.3), and the dominant diagonal of the buildings along the river, here formed of molton rock, from his canvas of The Fall of Babylon, 1819, and the mezzotint of 1831 (illustrated Feaver, op. cit., pls. 26 and 27). Despite the imagination of the scene as a whole the details provide a completely realistic foundation. Blhm and Lippincott suggest ( op. cit., p. 128) a link with Byron, in that Pall Mall, to which Carlton House Terrace is adjacent, was the first street to be lit by gas, in 1808, a feature of urban development in which Martin was very interested. Byron, in Cant. XXVI of Don Juan, 1818, associated Pall Mall with Hell. Certain architectural details, such as the carved serpents on the top of the piers supporting the first terrace of the building, are taken up in the exceptional frame, which was designed by Martin for this picture (see James, op. cit., p. 234; fig.5). Martin also designed a frame for The Celestial City (James, p. 234; fig.4), but this was either never made or is now lost. Only one other major frame specially designed by Martin for one of his paintings is known today, that for The Assuaging of the Waters (General Assembly of the Church of Scotland). A small oil painting of Pandemonium (241/2 x 301/2 in.), based on the mezzotint, was formerly tentatively associated with the 1841 Royal Academy exhibit. It is neither signed nor dated, and may well be by a follower (Tate Britain, N 05435).

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John Linnell (1792-1882)

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Description: The Return of Ulysses signed and dated 'J Linnell.1848.' (lower right) and with inscription in Greek (lower right) oil on canvas 49 x 73 in. (124.5 x 185.5 cm.) PROVENANCE Commissioned by Joseph Gillott, 1847. Joseph Pennell. William Wilson, Manchester, 1857. John Graham, Skelmorlie Castle, Ayrshire, Scotland, by 1883; Christie's, London, 30 April 1887, lot 76 (1,400 gns to Agnew). with Thomas Agnew & Sons Ltd., London. Sir John Barran, 2nd Bt., of Sawley Hall, Yorkshire, and 24 Queens Gate, London; Christie's, London, 1 July 1905, lot 16 (unsold). A. Amor, 31 St. James's Street (on behalf of Sir John Barran); Christie's, London, 30 May 1924, lot 78 (unsold). Sir Rowland Barran; Christie's, London, 24 May 1946, lot 133 (14 gns to Devlin). Bruce Graham-Hersey, Dublin. Anon. sale, Christie's, London, 5 March 1971, lot 16, when acquired by the present owner. LITERATURE Art Journal, 1849, p. 174. Illustrated London News, 26 May 1849, p. 350. London Society, no. 43, 1883, p. 217. E.R. Firestone, 'John Linnell and the Picture Merchants', Connoisseur, February 1973, p. 130. D. Linnell, Blake, Palmer, Linnell & Co., London, 1994, p. 362, no. 134, p. 400. EXHIBITION London, Royal Academy, 1849, no. 443. Manchester, City Art Gallery, Art Treasures Exhibition, 1857, no. 471. Glasgow, Fine Art Loan Exhibition in Aid of the Royal Infirmary, 1878, lent by John Graham. London, Royal Academy, Exhibition of Works of Old Masters... including a special Selection from the Works of John Linnell and Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Winter 1883, no. 64. London, Burlington House, 1883. The Royal Academy (1837-1901) Revisited, 1975-6, no. 42. Cambridge, Fitzwilliam Museum, and New Haven, Yale Center for British Art, John Linnell, A Centennial Exhibition, 1982-83, no. 94, illus. The Pre-Raphaelites and their Times, 1985, no. 64. NOTES This is an extremely rare instance of a large-scale painting by Linnell of a classical subject; most of his 'historical landscapes' were of scriptural subjects. The Greek inscription on the picture, translated for the 1849 Royal Academy catalogue, is from Book XIII of Homer's Odyssey and tells of Odysseus (or, as Linnell has it from the Latin, 'Ulysses') landing on his home island of Ithaca after his ten years of wandering following the Trojan War: And first brought forth Ulysses: bed and all That richly furnish't it; he still in thrall Of all-subduing sleepe. Upon the sand They set him softly down; and then, the strand They strewed with all the goods he had bestowed By the renowned Phoenicians The rich Turnerian sky sets the dawn scene. The unusual subject (for Linnell) is the result of the commission from Joseph Gillott, the Birmingham pen-manufacturer and collector of contemporary British art, and in particular the works of J.M.W. Turner (another possible reason for the particularly Turnerian sky). Gillot had already commissioned a painting of this subject from William Collins who however died in 1847. Linnell was working on his picture throughout March, April and May of that year but did not complete it until August 1848. Gillott was sufficiently pleased with Linnell's work that he ordered a companion, but the two men were unable to agree terms. Linnell's resort to Turner for the sky of this picture may have been partly the result of Turner's own choice of a Homeric subject for Ulysses deriding Polyphemus, shown at the Royal Academy in 1829 (London, National Gallery). Turner had also composed many compositions centring on a setting sun on the distant horizon, drawing the spectator into the picture, a device going back further to Claude in works such as The Departure of the Queen of Sheba, already to be seen in the National Gallery in London. The picture had the distinction of being selected for the remarkable Art Treasures exhibition held at Manchester in 1857, in which works by both contemporary artists and the Old Masters were displayed.

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William Mulready, R.A. (1786-1863)

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Description: Train up a Child in the Way He should go, and when He is old He will not depart from it oil on panel 26 x 311/4 in. (66 x 79.4 cm.) PROVENANCE Thomas Baring; Christie's, London, 8 June 1882 (?). Ralph Brocklebank; Christie's, London, 29 April 1893, lot 95 (1,320 gns to Agnew for R. Brocklebank). His sale; Christie's, London, 7 July 1922, lot 67 (48 gns to Sampson). John Emsley; Sotheby's, London, 6 June 1945, lot 123 (to Mitchell). John Avery, Sotheby's, London, 27 November 1984, lot 15. with The Fine Art Society, London, from whom acquired by the present owner in 1985. LITERATURE Times, 28 June 1841, p. 5. Literary Gazette, 1841, p. 314. Athenaeum, 1841, pp. 388-9. Art Union, 1841, p. 77. T. Gautier, Les Beaux-Arts en Europe, Paris, 1855, p. 29. G. Waagen, Galleries and Cabinets of Art in Great Britain, London, 1857, vol. IV, p. 100. F.G. Stephens, 'William Mulready, R.A.', Fine Arts Quarterly Review, 1863, p. 390. R. and S. Redgrave, A Century of Painters of the English School, London, 1866, p. 319. F.G. Stephens, Memorials of William Mulready R.A., London, 1890, pp. 73, 82-3, 87-8, 95, and list. R. Redgrave, Richard Redgrave: A Memoir compiled from his Diary by F.M. Redgrave, London, 1891, vol. II, p. 319, under 10 April 1853. G. Reynolds, Victorian Painting, London, 1966, pp. 12, 26, pl. 2. A. Rorimer (ed.), Drawings by William Mulready, London, Victoria and Albert Museum, 1972, pp. 72-3. K.M. Heleniac, William Mulready, Yale, 1980, pp. 98, 100-3, 114, 166, 215-6 (no. 154), 250 note, 251 note, illus. p. 100, pl. 101. The catalogue entry quotes extensively from Mulready's account book. M. Pointon, Mulready, book of the exhibition, London, 1986, pp. 50, 100, 102, 121-6, 134, 167, cat. no. 112 and pl. XXI. E.D.H. Johnson, Paintings of the British Social Scene from Hogarth to Sickert, London, 1986, p. 169, pl. 116. J. Treuherz (ed.), Hard Times, exh. Manchester City Art Gallery, 1987, cat. 17. S. West (ed.), The Victorians and Race, Aldershot, 1996, pl. 5.1. EXHIBITION London, Royal Academy, 1841, no. 109. London, Society of Arts, Pictures, Drawings, Sketches, etc. of William Mulready R.A., 1848, no. XX. Paris, Exposition Universelle, 1855, no. 895. Manchester, Art Treasures of the United Kingdom, 1857, no. 356. London, International Exhibition, 1862, no. 303. London, Science and Art Department, South Kensington Museum, Pictures, Drawings, Sketches, etc. of the late William Mulready, Esq., R.A., 1864, no. 86. London, Royal Academy, Exhibition of Works of the Old Masters, Winter 1871, no. 260. Liverpool, Walker Art Gallery, Grand Loan Exhibition of Pictures, 1886, no. 742. Manchester, Royal Jubilee Exhibition, 1887, no. 905, as 'Integrity'. London, Grosvenor Gallery, 1888. Art Gallery, London, Guildhall, Loan Exhibition, 1894, no. 91. London, Arts Council, British Subject and Narrative Pictures, 1953, no. 29. London, Arts Council, Victorian Paintings, 1962, no. 50. Bristol, City Art Gallery, William Mulready, 1964, no. 19. London, Royal Academy, Bicentenary Exhibition, 1968, no. 192. Paris, Palais des Beaux-Arts, La Peinture romantique anglaise et les pr‚raphaelites, 1972, no. 201. London, Victoria and Albert Museum; Dublin, National Gallery of Ireland; and Belfast, Ulster Museum, William Mulready 1786-1863, 1986-7, no. 112. Victorian Childhood, 1986-7, cat. pl. 18. Childhood, 1988, no. 206. Virtue Rewarded, 1988-90, no. 21. Innocence and Experience, 1992-3, no. 45. Berkeley, University Art Museum; Memphis, Dixon Gallery and Gardens; and Omaha, Joslyn Art Museum, The New Child: British Art and the Origins of Modern Childhood, 1730-1830, 1995-6, cat. pl. 40. La Era Victoriana, 1997, no. 52. The Defining Moment, 2000-1, no. 36. NOTES This major work was painted for the Tory M.P. Thomas Baring (1799-1873), a keen collector of old master and modern paintings and one of Mulready's most important and perceptive patrons. The picture was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1841, and again at the Exposition Universelle in Paris in 1855. Meanwhile Mulready had retouched it in 1851 and repainted it after a fire at Baring's house in Upper Grosvenor Street in 1853. Waagen mentioned it in his Galleries and Cabinets of Art in Great Britain, published in 1854. The title is taken from Proverbs, ch. 22, v. 6: 'Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it'. A boy is seen being encouraged by two young women to give alms to a group of three lascars (Indian sailors) in a rocky landscape. The boy seems to struggle against his natural apprehension, recoiling from the bizarre strangers yet determined not to show his fear. The girls smile at his hesitation, while the lascars are seen as sinister presences, menacing embodiments of oriental inscrutability. The boy's elderly dog looks on impassively; nothing can surprise him. According to F.G. Stephens, Mulready's biographer, the artist himself thought the picture his masterpiece, and it is certainly one of his most remarkable productions. Marcia Pointon describes it as 'arguably the most extraordinary of Mulready's depictions of childhood', and Kathryn Heleniac as 'one of (his) most interesting and provocative works'. Nowhere else, perhaps, is Mulready quite so deliberately enigmatic, revelling in those ambiguities which make his work so fascinating, and so much more distinguished than most Victorian genre painting. Mulready, almost alone of his contemporaries, transcends the limitations of genre, rather as Vermeer does those of the seventeenth-century Dutch interior. At one level, the picture is clearly concerned with the unexceptional precept that children should be brought up to be charitable, but by making the objects of this child's charity so threatening, Mulready introduces a dimension which would be absent if (as in so many pictures by Gainsborough, Wheatley, Collins and others) they were simply London beggars or indigent rustics. Indeed, the complexities are compounded by the fact that the lascars themselves are fearful. As Stephens put it, 'notice...their slow, oriental motion of uncovering, and of imploring salutation and reverence, the arms silently outstretched to receive the half-affrighted boy's gift. Their strange eyes, motions, attitudes and costumes are expressed so powerfully' that we almost share their apprehension, and the picture gains 'dignity, force and tragic interest' as a result. An element of class and racial tension is undoubtedly present, as is the idea that imperial expansion brings with it new obligations for the conquering race. All these aspects of the picture are discussed at length in the two modern assessments of Mulready's career quoted above. Perhaps the only feature which has escaped due attention is the landscape. Richard Redgrave observed that Mulready painted his landscape backgrounds from memory, and Stephens was inclined to dismiss them, perhaps because he found them lacking in Pre-Raphaelite actuality and detail. But Mulready knew what he was doing. The landscape in Train up a Child is integral to the conception. The dramatic cliff face, screening off any hint of distance, adds an element of claustrophobia to a scene already fraught with fear and anxiety, while the very lack of naturalism, by introducing a slightly theatrical element, almost as if the action was taking place on stage, enhances the surreal nature of the encounter between the child and the Indian beggars. Mulready had already treated the subject of racial difference in The Toy Seller (Victoria and Albert Museum, London), a painting of 1835 in which a child, younger than the one in our picture, is seen shying away from a black beggar. He took up the subject on a larger scale in 1857, leaving the canvas unfinished at his death (fig. 1). A pen-and-ink composition drawing for our picture is in the Victoria and Albert Museum (illustrated in Heleniac, op. cit., p. 101, pl. 102). The discrepancy between the 1,320 guineas paid for the picture in 1893 and the 48 guineas it realised in 1922 is remarkable, and a graphic illustration of the changing fortunes of Victorian pictures during this period. For another example, see lot 32. Mulready's works are nearly all in public collections, and thus seldom appear on the market. The only important example handled by Christie's in recent years was Idle Boys, exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1815, which was sold in these Rooms on 9 June 1995, lot 354.

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