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OIL PAINTINGS [Lots 33-147]
James Smetham (1821-1889)

Piping down the Valleys

Details
James Smetham (1821-1889)
Piping down the Valleys
signed 'J.Smetham.' (lower left) and inscribed 'Piping down the Vallies' (on the reverse)
oil on board, in original frame
4½ x 12 in. (11.5 x 30.6 cm.)

Lot Essay

Smetham's work was characterised by his friend Rossetti as partaking 'greatly of Blake's immediate spirit, being also often allied by landscape intensity to Samuel Palmer'. In his own words he explained how he sought in his imagination to combine 'art, literature and the religious life all in one'. In Susan P Casteras's biography, James Smetham, 1995, p. 124, pl. 38, she notes how Smetham wrote of another version of this picture wondering if one could 'dwell in this valley of Heartsease where Humility and Content meet with horn-handed labour, and all sweetly foot it by the windy brooks, and over the windy sheep walks!'. Derived from lines by Blake, the picture encapsulates Smetham's ideal of an arcadian age of innocence and compares directly in scale and composition with his illustration to Milton's Lycidas, offered at Christie's London, 25 January 1974, lot 46, consigned by the grandson of the artist.
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