Sophie Gengembre Anderson (1823 - 1903)

Lot 290: Sophie Anderson (1823-1903)


February 19, 2003
London, United Kingdom

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Description: Guess Again signed 'S. Anderson' (lower right) oil on canvas 38 5/8 x 291/2 in. (98.1 x 75 cm.) PROVENANCE Bought by James Pegram, 16 July 1878, for 200 gns. Anon. sale, Christie's, London, 20 November 1970, lot 231, when acquired by the present owner. LITERATURE A. Graves, The Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1905, vol. I, p. 33. A. Graves Loans, 1913, vol. IV, p. 1762. M. A. Findlay, 'Forbes Saves the Queen,' Arts Magazine, 1973, February, p. 30. D. Davis, 'Back to the Salon', Newsweek, 4 November 1974, p. 97 illus. EXHIBITION London, Royal Academy, 1878, no. 1331. Liverpool, 1886, no. 1264, lent by James Pegram. Winston-Salem, Fine Arts Center; and Raleigh, North Carolina Museum of Art, Women, 1972, no. 18. The Art and Mind of Victorian England, 1974, no. 1. The Royal Academy (1837-1901) Revisited, 1975-6, no. 2. The Painter was a Lady, 1986-7, no. 2. A Struggle for Fame, 1994, cat. p. 50. Ladies of the Brush, 1994-5, no. 3. The Grosvenor Gallery: A Palace of Art in Victorian England, 1996, no. 4. NOTES Guess Again was painted in Capri, probably using local models and the local landscape as a backdrop, and was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1878. Its first owner, James Pegram, also owned another of Anderson's works The Proposal which he lent along with the present work to the Liverpool exhibition in 1886. Italian genre scenes were a regular feature of the Royal Academy summer exhibitions. Earlier masters from the mid-century such as Sir Charles Eastlake (see lot 257), John Severn (1793-1857) and Thomas Uwins (1782-1857, see lot 40) all specialised in Italian genre painting. The indication of an unspoiled, rustic landscape and the related notion of an idyllic childhood, appealed to the late Victorian penchant for escapism. It also recalls the work of the French Academic painter, Adolphe W. Bouguereau (1825-1905), whose Italian genre paintings of the 1850s have the same playful, carefree atmosphere. Guess Again shares the same provenance, and entered the Forbes Collection through Agnew's at the same time as John Phillip's The Early Career of Murillo - 1634 (lot 8) and Richard Dadd's Polyphemus Discovered Asleep by The Shepherds of Sicily (lot 228). Anderson's paintings of domestic scenes and children were popular with the Royal Academy audiences and with the Victorian art-collecting middle-class. This was fortunate for her, and other women artists, who were not permitted as late as 1893 to enter life-drawing sessions at the Royal Academy. Even after that date they were permitted entry only when the model assumed some form of discreet drapery and thus the earlier academic preference for history and mythological painting with its conventional requisites of an Academic training and life-drawing classes would have excluded artists such as Anderson from success. Sophie Anderson's work falls between the academic approach of Queen Victoria herself who was a pupil of Sir Edwin Landseer to the female associates of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood: Marie Spartali, Elizabeth Siddall, Catherine Hueffer and Lucy Rossetti. Her scenes of children and small, domestic interiors recall the intimacy of the seventeenth century Dutch school of Teniers, Ostade and De Hooch and their appeal to a commercial, materialistic middle-class is comparable to the circumstances surrounding bourgeois patronage in seventeenth century Holland. Comparable female figures abroad can be found in the French artist, Julie Delance Feurgard, and in America, that of Minerva Chapman. For biographical details of this artist please refer to the note to lot 102 in the present sale.
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