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Auction Description for Sotheby's: Great British Art: Victorian & Edwardian

Great British Art: Victorian & Edwardian (128 Lots)

by Sotheby's

128 lots with images

June 7, 2005

London, United Kingdom


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Description: SIR JOSEPH NOEL PATON R.S.A. 1821-1901 CYMOCLES DISCOVERED BY ATIS IN THE BOWRE OF BLISSE, SPENSER'S FAIRIE QUEENE, BOOK II, CHAPTER V.signed, inscribed and dated l.l.: J.N.P. London. Octo. 1848.; inscribed l.c.: Cymocles discovered by Atis/ in the Bowre of Blisse. Fairie Queen. B. II. C. V.pen and ink with washPROVENANCEThe Fine Art Society, June 1996;Private collectionCATALOGUE NOTEThis is a study for Paton's Royal Scottish Academy exhibit of 1850 (no 564), an illustration to a scene from Spenser's Fairee Queene. The knight Cymocles, whose name means 'the anger of the sea', brother of Pyrocles 'the anger of the fire', who was fought and slain by the hero of the tale Sir Guyon. Cymocles had been lured to the Bowre of Blisse by the beautiful enchantress Phædria and had fallen into a magical sleep. In Paton's picture Cymocles is sleeping in the foreground surrounded by Phædria's nymphs who are playing music, dancing, bathing and dressing themselves in his armour. Gauntlets, swords and helms hung in the boughs of the bower suggest that Cymocles is not the first knight to be seduced by these delectable young women and another knight Atis has entered the clearing and will be their next object of seduction. The similarity between this illustration by Paton and the drawing of Cymon and Iphigenia by Millais (lot 3 of this sale), is striking and demonstrates that during this period the two artists were heavily influenced by the work of William Etty.

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Description: inscribed on a sheet of writing paper attached to the backing: 10 March 91 The little sketch of Lear is my work when I was a lad/... J E Millaisoil on panelPROVENANCESotheby's, 25 March 1964, lot 206 (bought by Ashford);Private collectionCATALOGUE NOTEThis early oil painting by Millais shows the moment in Shakespeare's play when King Lear - his madness abating - sees and recognises his daughter Cordelia. The rich old-masterly colouring and the emphatic characterisation of the figures suggest that Lear and Cordelia was painted in the late 1840s, during a period in which Millais was exploring different historical painting styles. Millias was strongly drawn to literary subjects in his early career. Drawings and paintings of Shakespearean themes occur from about 1848 onwards, the first being an oil sketch for The Death of Romeo and Juliet (Manchester City Art Gallery). A year later, after the formation of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, he painted Ferdinand and Ariel (Tate). Millais particular interest in subjects from King Lear was shared, and perhaps to some degree indebted to, his friend Ford Madox Brown, who had begun a painting in 1848, also inspired by act 4, scene 7 of the play (Tate).

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Description: signed and dated l.r.: Millais 1847pen and inkCATALOGUE NOTEThis previously unrecorded and unpublished drawing is a compositional design for Millais's important early painting Cymon and Iphigenia (National Museums and Galleries on Merseyside; Lady Lever Art Gallery). The subject is that given by Boccaccio in the Decameron. The rustic shepherd Cymon had found Iphigenia as she lay sleeping, and was spellbound by her beauty. In the drawing, as in the finished painting, the two figures are seen at the commencement of their shy courtship.Millais was probably reliant on John Dryden's translation of Boccaccio's cycle of poems. The passage treated in the drawing is as follows: 'Then Cymon first his rustick Voice essay'd, / With proffer'd Service to the parting Maid / To see her safe; his Hand she long deny'd, / But took at length, asham'd of such a Guide; / So Cymon led her home...' Gradually the rustic shepherd is transformed into a noble and accomplished person, as a consequence of loving and being loved by a refined and beautiful woman. All ends happily in the eventual marriage of the lovers, who had in the first place seemed such unlikely suitors.The choice of the subject may have been inspired by William Etty, who had made a copy of Joshua Reynolds's Cymon and Iphigenia, which Millais may have seen (see Dennis Farr, William Etty, London, 1958, pp.181-2, cat. no.296). In addition, Millais may have known versions of the subject by Rubens and Lely.Millais's artistic training had commenced at the age of eight, when he was enrolled at Henry Sass's school, being put to copying engravings and drawing from casts of antique sculpture. In 1840 he became a probationer at the Royal Academy schools, and shortly afterwards was admitted as a full student after submitting a study from the antique and anatomical studies. The following three years were devoted to drawing from the antique. In 1846, aged sixteen, he graduated to the Life Academy, where he would have drawn from the male nude. On one occasion Millais competed for a prize for an outline drawing offered by the Art Union. Although unsuccessful, he would have attempted to fulfil the stated expectation of 'simplicity of composition and expression, severe beauty of form, and pure, correct drawing' - traits which characterise the present drawing of a year or so later.The artist's drawings of the period are consistently treated in outline, and with figures carefully placed across the width in a broadly symmetrical form and in a shallow depth of field, thus revealing his debt to Neo-classical principles. The present drawing shows the strong influence of the linear style of draughtsmanship of John Flaxman (1755-1826), a figure who was still revered at the Royal Academy, where he had served as Professor of Sculpture from 1810. At the end of 1847, the Cyclographic Club - a forerunner of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood - was founded, and served to foster a new naturalism in drawing.The handling of this complex and multi-figured compositional design demonstrates the precocity of Millais's talent as a draughtsman, and both the conservative and progressive directions that his art was taking at this early stage in his professional career.CSN

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Description: DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI 1828-1882 SKETCH FOR DANTE AT VERONA, WITH A PRELIMINARY STUDY FOR THE PRINCIPAL FIGUREone pencil, the other pencil with brown pen and inkQuantity: 2PROVENANCEChristie's, Manson & Woods, Remaining Works of the Painter and Poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Deceased, 12 May 1883, lots 119a and 119b;London, Fine Art Society, where bought by Harold Hartley c. 1903, thence by descent to the present ownerEXHIBITEDRoyal Academy and Birmingham, City Art Gallery and Museum, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Painter and Poet, 13 January - 6 May 1973, nos. 89 and 90LITERATURE AND REFERENCESVirginia Surtees, The Paintings and Drawings of Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882), A Catalogue Raisonné, 1971, vol. I, p. 20, cat nos. 55 and 55a;A. I. Grieve, The Art of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, The Watercolours and Drawings of 1850-1855, 1978, p. 16, repr. pls. 12 and 13CATALOGUE NOTEThese present two studies, with two others, were made for an intended subject showing Dante in exile from Florence, at the palace of the Can Grande Della Scala family at Verona. The larger of the two shows Dante standing on a spiral staircase, with the figure of a jester on the right. Dante seems to seek to ignore this irritating person, gathering his cloak around himself and proceeding down the stairs. The smaller drawing shows Dante leaning on a wall or parapet that encloses a stairway. The poet is seen alone, perhaps pondering the loneliness of his exile.A.I. Grieve suggests that the larger of the two drawings, which he regards as the latest of the group of sketches, perhaps dating from 1852 or after, may represent the central motif of the Dante at Verona subject. Grieve comments on the way in which the artist uses flights of steps to spread the composition over the entire picture surface. The two other drawings in the series are in Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, and again show the standing figure of Dante (Surtees nos. 55B and 55C).Rossetti's intense interest in Dante is well known. The painter's father was a distinguished scholar of medieval Italian literature, and Rossetti himself was named after the poet. In the early 1850s Rossetti made a translation of Dante's Vita Nuova, to which he intended to make watercolour illustrations, commencing the series at about the time that he made the present drawings. Rossetti's poem 'Dante at Verona', written in the late 1840s, was introduced with lines from the Paradiso of Dante's Divine Comedy:Yea, thou shalt learn how salt his food who faresUpon another's bread, - how steep his pathWho treadeth up and down another's stairs.The Dante at Verona composition was to form a side part of a triptych of watercolour subjects showing events from the poet's life. William Michael Rossetti described this project in his book D.G. Rossetti - His Family Letters, with a Memoir, two volumes 1905-6, I, p.163. The scheme was abandoned in 1852 or soon after, with only the panel Giotto Painting the Portrait of Dante (Lord Lloyd-Webber collection) completed. According to W.M. Rossetti, the other lateral part of the triptych was to show Dante as one of the Prior of Florence banishing Cavalcanti, who was a leader of one of the contending so-called black and white factions in the city.CSN

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Description: signed and indistinctly dated l.r.: F M Brown. 184*oil on canvasPROVENANCEProbably Helen Bromley, the sitters' mother;Probably given by Helen Bromley to the artist, and thence by descent via his daughter Lucy and her husband, William Michael RossettiEXHIBITEDLondon, Grafton Galleries, Exhibition of the Works of Ford Madox Brown, 1897, no. 87LITERATURE AND REFERENCESMS letter from the artist to his daughter Lucy Rossetti, after 1886 (Angeli papers, special collections, University of British Columbia, Vancouver);F. M. Hueffer, Ford Madox Brown: A Record of his Life and Work, 1896, pp. 433, 434;W. D. Paden, The Ancestry and Families of Ford Madox Brown, Bulletin of the John Rylands Library, vol. 50, no. 1, autumn 1967, pp. 130-131CATALOGUE NOTESeveral of Brown's earliest works are portraits of his relatives the Bromleys, who lived at Meopham in Kent. Ford Madox Hueffer, the artist's grandson described Brown's visit to the Bromley's in 1840 'Here he painted portraits of all his relations there resident. They are mostly quaint little medallions.' Among the portraits was one of Elizabeth, Brown's cousin with whom he fell madly in love and married later that same year (sadly she died only six years later).The present picture portrays the three eldest children of Brown's cousin and brother-in-law, Augustus Frederick Bromley (1815-1843) and his wife Helen (née Weir). Augustus and Helen had married in Paris in 1840 at a time when Brown was resident in the French capital, studying the Old Masters at the Louvre. Brown had painted both Helen and Augustus during the stay in Meopham in 1840 and other portraits of members of the Bromley family are known to have been painted in 1844, including the lavish portrait of the older generation of Bromleys now at Manchester City Art Gallery.The sitters in the present portrait are as follows; the little girl in the centre dressed in white is the oldest child Helen Bromley with her brother Augustus to her right holding a hoop and stick and her sister Louisa seated to her left. Lamentably, none of the children lived beyond their teenage years, the two younger children dying in 1845 and 1846 and Helen surviving only until 1855 when she died aged seventeen. There has been much confusion regarding when this portrait was painted and the only certainty is that it was in the early 1840s before Augustus junior's death in 1845. The painting is dated but the last digit has proved difficult to decipher. When it was exhibited in Brown's memorial exhibition in 1897 it was stated that it was painted in 1841 and Hueffer lists it as being painted in 1840, but mentions it again as being painted in 1845. Although 1844 is the most likely date for the painting, it is strange that Brown did not include a fourth child, Elizabeth Clara who was born in 1843.The portrait was presumably painted for Helen Bromley, the children's mother who ran a school in Greenwich where Brown's daughter Lucy was educated. At a later date the portrait returned to the artist's possession and was given to Lucy who after her death in 1894, a year after her father, bequeathed the picture to her husband William Michael Rossetti, the brother of the artist Dante Gabriel and of the poet Christina.

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