Edward Atkinson Hornel (1864-1933)
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Edward Atkinson Hornel (1864-1933)

Dancing geisha girl

Edward Atkinson Hornel (1864-1933)
Dancing geisha girl
signed and inscribed 'A Mon Ami/Alex Taylor/of Bury/EAHornel' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
48 x 24 in. (122 x 61 cm.)
Painted in 1894
The Rt. Hon. The Lord Glendevon, P.C., his sale; Christie's, London, 18 November 1977, lot 78 (£2000 to The Fine Art Society).
with The Fine Art Society, London.
R. Billcliffe, The Glasgow Boys, London, 1985, pp. 259-260, pl. 238.
Glasgow, The Scottish Arts Council, Mr Henry and Mr Hornel visit Japan, December 1978-January 1979, no. EH5 (illustrated p.42): this exhibition travelled to Edinburgh, Scottish Arts Council Gallery, February-March 1979; Ayr, McLaurin Art Gallery, March-April 1979; Inverness, Museum and Art Gallery, April-May 1979; and London, Fine Art Society, May-June 1979.
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No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 17.5% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis. Notice to Buyers Resident in Scotland Payment and collections may be made immediately following the end of the sale until 7.00pm. Collections may be made on Friday, 27 October 2000 from 9.00 am until 1.00 pm, after which all lots purchased by Scottish residents will be transported free of charge to either our Glasgow office, tel 44(0)141 332 8134 or to our Edinburgh office, tel 44(0)131 225 4756 where they will be available from 9.00 am on Monday, 30 October. Notice to Buyers outside Scotland Purchases made by buyers with addresses outside Scotland will be transferred to Christie's, 8 King Street, London SW1, for collection from noon on Monday, 30 October 2000. Purchases are only insured for a period of seven working days following the sale.

Lot Essay

Born in Australia in 1864, Edward Atkinson Hornel's family moved to
Scotland when he was two years old and settled in Kirkcudbright,
Galloway, a popular retreat for Glaswegian artists. In 1880 Hornel started his formal studies in art at the Trustees Academy in Edinburgh. His sister was teaching in Edinburgh at the time and this probably played a part in the decision to educate him there rather than Glasgow. Uninspired by his three years at the Academy, Hornel enrolled to study under Charles Verlat in Antwerp, an experience which immersed him in the avant-garde ideas engaging the continent during the period.

On his return to Kirkcudbright, Hornel became great friends with fellow artist George Henry. Funded by the dealer Alex Reid and the patron William Burrell, the two artists spent eighteen months travelling in Japan and the Far East from 1893 to 1894, visiting Tokyo, Nagasaki and Yokohama. Hornel was deeply impressed by the sophisticated and highly decorative Japanese prints that he saw. His work, including the present composition which he painted the year after his return from Japan, shows this influence in his intricate tapestry-like patterns held in tightly constructed compositions.

In a lecture given in 1895 Hornel explained, 'The genius discernable in their Kakemonos [hanging scroll paintings] is to be traced in their articles of common use, nothing being too common-place to form the basis of some work of art. And this is perhaps one of the greatest achievements of the Japanese, the raising of the common-place into the region of art, and investing it with a charm at once ... full of dignified line and splendour of colour, the greatest impressionism the world has so far possessed, in which all details are laid aside, or made subservient to the motif, giving you only the spirit and character of the figure, bird or flower portrayed. I know of no art which for directness of impressiveness can surpass the past achievements of the Japanese' (lecture written by Hornel and delivered in the Corporation Art Galleries, Glasgow on 9 February 1895. See B. Smith, The Life and Work of Edward Atkinson Hornel, Edinburgh, 1997, pp. 84-86).

Hornel dedicated the present work to his friend, Alexander Taylor (1849-1914), a Bury business man, councillor and collector, specialising particularly in Japanese prints. He was one of the first members of the Bury Art Gallery and Library Committee and a patron and friend of Hornel's. He presented a painting by Hornel, Spring's Awakening, to the Gallery when it opened in 1901.


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