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    Sale 7555

    Scottish Art The Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh

    23 October 2008, London, King Street

  • Lot 115

    Sir William Russell Flint, R.A., R.W.S. (1880-1969)

    The shrine with the little ship, Portovenere, Ligurian coast, Italy

    Price Realised  


    Sir William Russell Flint, R.A., R.W.S. (1880-1969)
    The shrine with the little ship, Portovenere, Ligurian coast, Italy
    signed 'W. RUSSELL FLINT' (lower left) and further signed and inscribed 'The Shrine with the Little Ship, Portovenere/W Russell Flint' (on the backboard)
    watercolour, heightened with touches of bodycolour
    14¾ x 22 1/8 in. (37.5 x 56.2 cm)

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    Portovenere, as Portus Veneris, is recorded as early as the 1st Century BC, when it was a fishing village, and was declared a UNESCO heritage site in 1997. Its name is supposed to derive from a temple to Venus, which stood on the site now occupied by the church of St Peter the Apostle. The present picture was probably painted following Russell Flint's visit to Italy with his wife in 1912-13. Dwarfed by the solid vaults and arches that Russell Flint often chose for the settings of his Mediterranean watercolours, the women stand quietly absorbed in their offerings at the little altar. The ship which gives the picture its title, a votive model presumably offered in thanks for a safe return, hangs beside the altar.

    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.


    Anonymous sale; Christie's, London, 19 March 1971, lot 161.

    Saleroom Notice

    There is an inscription in the lower left corner that reads 'C3 7458 Ap. 1958 Sp 20.4.58 (overmounted) and a further inscription on the back of the sheet that reads 'The Shrine with the Little Ship, Potovenere. WRussell Flint 22 x 14 7/8 in May, 1958'. The watercolour was not therefore executed between 1912 and 1913 when Russell Flint visited Italy as the catalogue note suggests.

    Pre-Lot Text

    SIR WILLIAM RUSSELL FLINT, R.A., P.R.W.S., R.S.W. (1880-1869)
    (Lots 115 - 120)

    Russell Flint was born in Edinburgh where he studied at the Royal Institute School of Art and undertook an apprenticeship as a lithographic artist. At the turn of the century he moved to London where he attended Heatherley's School of Fine Art and Hammersmith School of Art whilst working for The Illustrated London News. Between the First and Second World Wars, during which he served in the Navy, Russell Flint established himself as a skilled watercolourist. He was elected an Associate of the Royal Society of Painters in Water-Colours in 1914, a full member in 1917 and served as President from 1936-54. Elected as an Associate of the Royal Academy in 1924, he was made a full Academician in 1933.

    In 1962 Russell Flint was one of only nine members of the Royal Academy to have his work exhibited in the Diploma Gallery during his lifetime. His Diploma Gallery exhibition attracted considerable attention; Eric Newton in his article for The Guardian, 19 October 1962, noted how Russell Flint had made the art of nudes his realm 'Other artists have inhabited it in the past - Boucher, Ingres and Etty among them. Greater artists than they have strolled through it, taking it in their stride - Titian and Rubens for example - but never making it their permanent home'.