Christie’s sale of Victorian & British Impressionist Art Including Drawings & Watercolours on 15 December, in London, will present the market with significant works by the masters of the period and includes two significant private collections. With estimates ranging from £3,000 to £500,000, over 150 lots will be offered, led by Shaking down cider apples by Henry Herbert la Thangue, R.A. (1859-1929) (estimate: £300,000-500,000) and Shrimp and six ponies on the Ringland Hills by Sir Alfred James Munnings, P.R.A., R.W.S. (1878-1959) (estimate: £300,000-500,000).
30 Pre-Raphaelite works which have passed by descent through the family of Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s brother, William Michael, provide collectors and institutions with a superb opportunity to acquire works on paper and paintings with excellent provenance. The collection is led by 13 works by Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882) including an intimate portrait of William Michael Rossetti (estimate: £12,000-18,000), a bewitching depiction of Ophelia (estimate: £30,000-50,000) and a startling study in oil for ‘Dante’s Dream at the Time of the Death of Beatrice’ (estimate: £80,000-120,000). This study is a demonstration of the artist’s technique – painting his later oils on a reddish ground, with blue underpainting of the face - aspects which were usually covered up in the painting process. Holman Hunt was also noted to have utilised blue underpainting for the initial modeling of flesh in The Finding of the Saviour in the Temple.
Further unusual works include designs for sculptural reliefs: Sea Nymph; and Wood Nymph, by Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones, Bt., A.R.A., R.W.S. (1833-1898) (estimate: £40,000-60,000). The highly stylised work of Edward Reginald Frampton, R.O.I., R.B.A. (1870-1923) is reflected in The Nativity was due, in part, to the influence of many artists including Burne-Jones, as well as to his extensive involvement in mural painting and stained glass (estimate: £60,000-80,000).
Female beauty is celebrated throughout the sale, highlighted by the cover lot A study: Maidens Picking Flowers by a Stream by John William Waterhouse, R.A. (1848-1917) (estimate: £100,000-150,000). The theme of this captivating oil, painted between 1909 and 1914, is an allegory for the transience of youth and beauty. Waterhouse produced a dozen paintings on the subject during this period, each relating to the ancient Greek myth of Persephone, a Romantic narrative which would have been familiar to Waterhouse's classically educated audience.
Dropped from the Nest, 1883, by Sir John Everett Millais, Bt., P.R.A. (1829-1896) captures the contemporary ideal of childhood innocence, whilst exemplifying the artist’s masterly brushwork and subtle tonalities (estimate: £250,000-350,000). The flush of youth is further examined in two very different stellar works by Arthur Hughes (1830-1915): in the complexity of A Passing Cloud (estimate: £50,000-70,000) and, from the collection of Dr. Mohammed Said Farsi, The Home Quartet: Mrs Vernon Lushington and Children, 1883, (£250,000-350,000). Hughes though never a member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood was closely associated with the movement. The Lushington Family were notable figures during the period and introduced Burne-Jones to Rossetti; one of the daughters, Kitty (in the centre) later became the model for Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway.
Shaking down cider apples captures the essence of the rural English idyll which Henry Herbert La Thangue celebrated throughout his revered career, as one of the leading British Impressionists (estimate: £300,000-500,000). This work exemplifies his remarkably naturalistic treatment of sunlight and shade, developed from early ‘plein air’ studies under the influence of Jules Bastien-Lepage. The autumnal harvest of apples is also the subject of The Cider Press by Sir Frank Brangwyn, R.A. (1867-1956) (estimate: £70,000-100,000) which is imbued with a rich autumnal palette and romantic yearning for the glories of rural England which is unusual within the artist’s oeuvre. A further work by Brangwyn is The Brass Shop (estimate: £50,000 - 70,000) which secured the artist a gold medal from the Berlin Academy and is one of his most accomplished works. Both paintings were recently shown to great acclaim in Tokyo.
A strong group of 18 works on paper from the Property of a Gentleman presents collectors with a treasure trove of depictions of Middle Eastern views and subjects by Edward Lear (1812-1888), William James Muller (1812-1845), David Roberts, R.A. (1796-1863), William Wyld (1806-1889),William Cleirihew (b.1840) and Carl Haag (1820-1915). Highlights range from Lear’s View of Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives, 1858 (estimate: £20,000-30,000), An Arab Encampment in the Sinai, near Gebal Serbal, Egypt (estimate: £7,000-10,000) and his View of Philae at Sunset, Egypt, 1854/62 (estimate: £7,000-10,000), to Roberts’ Mosque El Mooristan, Cairo, Egypt, 1838, (estimate: £15,000-20,000) and Muller’s The entrance to the small temple at Medinet Habu, Luxor, Egypt (estimate: £6,000-8,000).
Drawing the viewer back to the charm of European climes are two superb paintings by Sir John Lavery, R.A., R.S.A., R.H.A. (1856-1941): The path by the river, Maidenhead, 1919 (estimate: £50,000-80,000) and The Bay of Tunis, Morning, 1919 (estimate: £80,000-120,000).
Building on the strength of recent sales of Sporting Art, highlights are led by the important, painterly, early work Shrimp and six ponies on the Ringland Hills by Sir Alfred James Munnings, P.R.A., R.W.S. (1878-1959)(estimate: £300,000-500,000) which is offered to the market for the first time, having been bought directly from the artist and passed by descent to the present owner. Other notable examples, which reflect the breadth and depth of the genre, range from The Finishing Horse by Dame Laura Knight, D.B.E., R.A., R.W.S. (1877-1970) (estimate: £80,000-120,000) and two albums, each comprising 24 watercolours, depicting wildfowl and ducks by Sir Peter Markham Scott (1909-1989) from the Estate of Lady Scott (estimate: £30,000-50,000); to five works by Archibald Thorburn (1860-1935), from two important private collections, including A cock pheasant with two hen pheasants, 1892 (estimate: £30,000-50,000).
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