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    Sale 7435

    British Works on Paper

    21 November 2007, London, King Street

  • Lot 44

    Benjamin West, P.R.A. (1738-1820)

    A sketchbook of eighty-one drawings, including An expressive male head (illustrated b); Study of a draped female nude; Profile of a bearded man; Profile of a man, possibly taken from a Roman bust; Profile of a bearded man, possibly taken from a Greek statue; Three figures in Renaissance costume; Life study for a standard-bearer; A draped male nude seen from behind; A reclining river nymph (illustrated e); Two life studies of a draped female nude; A muscular male nude (illustrated c); A male nude seated on a step; A seated female nude wearing a hair net; Profile of a young girl in prayer; Cupid; David playing the harp; Study of a woman's arm; A seated male nude holding a thunderbolt; Life study of a female nude in a Mannerist pose; A reclining male nude; Two seated male nudes in Classical costume; Andromeda (illustrated a); Sketch of a reclining female nude; Composition study for 'The Rape of Persephone' (illustrated i); Two male figures in Biblical drapery; Composition study for 'Hector parting from Andromache and Astyanax'; Life study of a seated male nude; Designs for hairstyles for 'Juno presenting the Cestus to Venus'; The infant Hercules strangling the serpent; Studies for 'The Resurrection' (recto and verso); Studies of shoulder muscles; Composition study with labourers and a wagon in a barn; Study of cattle; Study of two infants and two grotesque heads; Petitioners appealing to a lord (illustrated g); Venus and Cupid; Four life studies of a seated female nude; A cloaked, seated Native American warrior; Life study of a seated male nude; Philosophers disputing; Study of a doorway; Seven studies of écorché limbs; Two composition studies showing a robed, chained figure in a hall before a judge; A young woman in the presence of a ruler; Study of a putto (illustrated e); Two sheets of studies of figures in contemporary dress; Narcissus; A robed, bearded figure, possibly an Apostle; Narcissus and Echo; Sketch of Narcissus; Two classical male figures in an interior [half the page has been excised]; 'Noli me tangere'; Esther before Ahasuerus; A kneeling female figure; Study for 'The Death of Epaminondas' (illustrated f); Two composition studies for pastoral scenes; A Roman orator addressing troops before a temple; Study for 'Hector parting from Andromache and Astyanax'; Sketch of a sacked city, possibly Troy; Aphrodite bringing Helen to Paris (illustrated d); Study of two figures, probably for 'Rinaldo and Armida'; A young man fording a river with two horses; Venus requesting armour for Aeneas from Vulcan; Composition study of Thetis supplicating Zeus; and Head of a bearded man

    Price Realised  

    Benjamin West, P.R.A. (1738-1820)
    A sketchbook of eighty-one drawings, including An expressive male head (illustrated b); Study of a draped female nude; Profile of a bearded man; Profile of a man, possibly taken from a Roman bust; Profile of a bearded man, possibly taken from a Greek statue; Three figures in Renaissance costume; Life study for a standard-bearer; A draped male nude seen from behind; A reclining river nymph (illustrated e); Two life studies of a draped female nude; A muscular male nude (illustrated c); A male nude seated on a step; A seated female nude wearing a hair net; Profile of a young girl in prayer; Cupid; David playing the harp; Study of a woman's arm; A seated male nude holding a thunderbolt; Life study of a female nude in a Mannerist pose; A reclining male nude; Two seated male nudes in Classical costume; Andromeda (illustrated a); Sketch of a reclining female nude; Composition study for 'The Rape of Persephone' (illustrated i); Two male figures in Biblical drapery; Composition study for 'Hector parting from Andromache and Astyanax'; Life study of a seated male nude; Designs for hairstyles for 'Juno presenting the Cestus to Venus'; The infant Hercules strangling the serpent; Studies for 'The Resurrection' (recto and verso); Studies of shoulder muscles; Composition study with labourers and a wagon in a barn; Study of cattle; Study of two infants and two grotesque heads; Petitioners appealing to a lord (illustrated g); Venus and Cupid; Four life studies of a seated female nude; A cloaked, seated Native American warrior; Life study of a seated male nude; Philosophers disputing; Study of a doorway; Seven studies of écorché limbs; Two composition studies showing a robed, chained figure in a hall before a judge; A young woman in the presence of a ruler; Study of a putto (illustrated e); Two sheets of studies of figures in contemporary dress; Narcissus; A robed, bearded figure, possibly an Apostle; Narcissus and Echo; Sketch of Narcissus; Two classical male figures in an interior [half the page has been excised]; 'Noli me tangere'; Esther before Ahasuerus; A kneeling female figure; Study for 'The Death of Epaminondas' (illustrated f); Two composition studies for pastoral scenes; A Roman orator addressing troops before a temple; Study for 'Hector parting from Andromache and Astyanax'; Sketch of a sacked city, possibly Troy; Aphrodite bringing Helen to Paris (illustrated d); Study of two figures, probably for 'Rinaldo and Armida'; A young man fording a river with two horses; Venus requesting armour for Aeneas from Vulcan; Composition study of Thetis supplicating Zeus; and Head of a bearded man
    pencil, some with stump, one with pen and black ink and grey wash, the sheets unbound
    4½ x 7¼ in. (11.5 x 18.4 cm.); and an engraving of Benjamin West, by W.C. Edwards after Sir Thomas Lawrence, P.R.A. (1769-1830).


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    Sketchbooks by West can be found in the collections of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Yale University and the Royal Academy of Arts. The present example, however, appears to be particularly broad in the range of subjects represented: figure studies, drawings from classical sculpture, compositional designs and more spontaneous sketches of people going about everyday tasks.

    This sketchbook is also unusually thick when compared to the examples at the Royal Academy. Coupled with its breadth of subject, this suggests that, although the pages are all the same size and many sections retain fragments of the spine, it has been formed by collecting together a number of thinner sketchbooks. It has also provided new evidence about the way West worked. He did not use the sketchbook chronologically but left blank pages between his sketches; sometimes he returned to these at a later point in his career and sometimes they remain blank.

    These drawings show West at his most focused and concentrated. His earlier works, such as the elegant reclining figure of a river nymph, show a care and precision of line that suggests the influence of contemporary French painting. Later drawings, such as the compositional studies for The Resurrection, are looser and more confident, with an almost Baroque visionary quality, more concerned with emphasising movement than delineating form.

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    VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 15% on the buyer's premium


    Provenance

    The artist's family, and by descent to Mrs P. Howard; Sotheby's, London, 19 July 1979, lot 36, where purchased by the present owner.