• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 7524

    Turin London Corfu The Collection of Giorgio Marsan and Umberta Nasi

    12 - 13 December 2007, London, King Street

  • Lot 10

    Arthur Melville, A.R.S.A., R.W.S., R.S.W. (1855-1904)

    After the play

    Price Realised  


    Arthur Melville, A.R.S.A., R.W.S., R.S.W. (1855-1904)
    After the play
    signed indistinctly 'Arthur Melville' (lower left)
    coloured chalks on oatmeal paper
    39 x 23 in. (99 x 58.4 cm.)

    Contact Client Service
    • info@christies.com

    • New York +1 212 636 2000

    • London +44 (0)20 7839 9060

    • Hong Kong +852 2760 1766

    • Shanghai +86 21 6355 1766

    This dramatic and exciting composition is an exploration of tonal harmonies as well as an exploration in the medium of pastel. Melville's interest in planes of light and colour was hugely innovative for the time. His brilliance lay in his ability to disguise the highly technical and deliberate application of the pastel in the broad and fevered strokes that give After the play its impact. As Iain Gale describes it, op.cit., p. 60: 'The bold expanse of the bright yellow dress of the woman being helped into her cape dominates the picture and yet again it is not the action of the narrative which concerns the artist or to which our attention is drawn, but this area of pure colour'.

    Melville rarely worked in pastel, being best known as one of the greatest watercolourists of his age, and the present drawing is one of the most ambitious schemes he attempted in the medium. It was executed for the second exhibition held by the Pastel Society, of which Melville was an original committee member.

    This highly aesthetic work shows the influence of artists such as James Abbott McNeil Whistler (1834-1903), as well as the social realism of contemporary French painters. Melville was a member of the so-called 'Glasgow Boys', a group of young artists who gained recognition by challenging the classical and allegorical subject matter of the established art world as represented by the Royal Scottish Academy in Edinburgh. They flourished throughout the 1880s and 1890s and, as well as painting in Glasgow and its environs, they sought scenes of rural life in other parts of Scotland. Principal members of the group included Joseph Crawhall (1861-1913), George Henry (1858-1943) and Edward Atkinson Hornel (1864-1933).

    Melville's oeuvre is characterised by a fascination with light and colour and the present work dates from a period when 'his colour has become more transparent, his tone more dazzlingly clear, his whites more resonant'.

    Special Notice

    No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 15% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.


    Mrs Lake, by 1965.
    Andrew McIntosh Patrick.
    With The Fine Art Society, London, May 1987.
    With The Fine Art Society, London, 1996.


    A.E. MacKay, Arthur Melville, Scottish Impressionist, Leigh-on-Sea, 1951, p. 79, no. 4.
    I. Gale, Arthur Melville, Edinburgh, 1996, p. 62, pl. 50.


    London, The Grosvenor Gallery, Second Exhibition of the Society of British Pastellists, Autumn 1890, no. 21.
    London, The Fine Art Society, Spring Exhibition, 1987, no. 12.
    Edinburgh, Bourne Fine Art, London, The Fine Art Society, Arthur Melville Exhibition, August - October 1996, no. 35.