George Dunlop Leslie (British, 1835-1921)
George Dunlop Leslie (British, 1835-1921)

The garland

George Dunlop Leslie (British, 1835-1921)
The garland
signed with initials 'G.D.Le.' (lower right); and signed 'G.D.Le' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
43 x 43 in. (109.9 x 109.9 cm.)
Athenaeum, London, 1 May 1886, p. 591, no. 3053
Times, London, 3 May 1886, p. 7
London, Grosvenor Gallery, 1886, no. 50

Lot Essay

During the 1860's, Alma-Tadema, Tissot and Landseer became associated with a group of younger painters who styled themselves as 'The St. John's Wood Clique'. The group included George Dunlop Leslie, Philip Hermogenes Calderon, Frederick Walker, and George Augustus Storey. These artists concentrated on narrative subjects of the Plantaganet and Tudor periods. Like historical novelists, they created accurate depictions of the era. "The tender treatment of pre-execution farewells, their genial ghosts, their sly medieval humor, the definition of their technique all became part of the stock-in-trade of the serious artist and their paintings fetched high prices." (B. Hillier, "The St. John's Wood Clique", Apollo, June 1964) Leslie was an active member of the group, regularly exhibiting at the Royal Academy. In the 1870's, he began to change his focus from historical subjects to pastoral landscapes and children, creating an idealistic view of Victorian life with paintings such as the present work and Trout stream with ladies fishing (The Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool).

The Garland was favorably reviewed in the Athenaeum after its 1886 exhibition at the Grosvenor Gallery, "Several weeks ago we briefly described Mr. G.D. Leslie's picture of three damsels in a tent.. One of them, who wears a gown of pure white with a black sash, sits on our right and binds roses in a long garland, of which her younger sister, standing near her and clad in green (which is subtly differentiated as well as harmonized with the brilliant verdure behind her figure) holds the end... The youngest child dressed in white with a blue sash, sits on a table and talks to her seniors... Technically speaking... it is a triumph of choice coloration and tonality. Exquisitively brilliant and pure, the greens, warm greys (of the tent), and whites are perfectly delightful" (Athenaeum, London, 1 May 1886, p. 591). The work was acquired by the family of the present owner in Europe at the turn of the century and has been in the present collection for over a century.