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    Sale 1136

    19th Century European Art and Fine 19th Century European Art

    30 October 2002, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 45

    Arthur John Elsey (British, 1861-1952)

    Picking Apples

    Price Realised  


    Arthur John Elsey (British, 1861-1952)
    Picking Apples
    signed and dated 'Arthur J. Elsley 1919' (lower left)
    oil on canvas
    38 x 27 in. (96.5 x 68.5 cm.)
    Painted in 1919

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    Arthur John Elsley was one of the most popular and well known British artists of the late 19th and early 20th Centuries with over 150 of his paintings reproduced as prints and calendars. He studied at the Royal Academy Schools after which he exhibited fifty-two works at the Royal Academy, together with works at numerous other major British exhibitions. The old adage of "never work with children and animals" doesn't apply to Elsley as he enjoyed his work and displays a great affection and humour towards his subjects.

    During the First World War, Elsley was asked to help with munitions work and because of his skill in being able to file accurately to a thousandth of an inch, he was given the exacting task of filing the jigs used to test gun-sights in the making. He had far less time to devote to painting and his output fell dramatically. In 1915 he only painted three works, none in 1916, four in 1917, and one in 1918. At the end of the war he returned to his normal output, completing six oil paintings in 1919.

    In this painting the artist's only child Marjorie, born on the 24th of August 1903, is the model for the teenage girl. She remembers that the apples featured in the work were arranged in an apron and left in the studio overnight. When Elsley returned the next morning he found some of the apples had disappeared. They had been taken by the maid for her children and being a good-natured man, Elsley made light of the incident. The rest of the children appear in some of Elsley's other works but are not identifiable by name.

    Numerous of his paintings were commissioned for the USA and many were reproduced as calendars by Thomas D. Murphy Co. of Red Oak, Iowa. There is no known print reproduction of this work in the UK, which suggests it was painted for the US market.

    We are grateful to Terry Parker for preparing this catalogue entry.


    Galerie Lochte, Hamburg.
    Anon. sale, Sotheby's, New York, 13 October 1978, lot 268.
    Anon. sale, Christie's, London, 27 November 1987, lot 81.
    Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.

    Pre-Lot Text



    T. Parker, Golden Hours: The Paintings of Arthur J. Elsley 1860-1952), Somerset, 1998, p. 130 (illustrated).