Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881), the Scottish philosopher and historian, was a powerful presence in the early days of Helen Allingham's marriage to her husband William. William was a great admirer of Carlyle's, to the extent that he introduced Helen to Carlyle before their wedding, so that she could be 'vetted'. At the beginning of their marriage it appears that they visited Carlyle every day, since they lived near Cheyne Row where he lived and worked. Helen made numerous sketches of Carlyle, particularly in the later stages of his life, winning him over despite his initial grumbling, and when he saw the finished watercolours that resulted from her sketches, such as the present work, he conceded that he was impressed by her portraiture. The association between the Allinghams and Carlyle continued until the latter's death in 1881, after which the Allinghams moved from Chelsea to Surrey.
We are grateful to Annabel Watts for her help in preparing this catalogue entry.
For a view of the Carlyle statue in Chelsea, please see lot 68.