Overview

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Frederic, Lord Leighton, P.R.A. (1830-1896)
Frederic, Lord Leighton, P.R.A. (1830-1896)

The Interior of St Mark's Basilica, Venice

Details
Frederic, Lord Leighton, P.R.A. (1830-1896)
The Interior of St Mark's Basilica, Venice
oil on canvas, laid down on board
12 x 19 in. (30.5 x 48.3 cm.)
Provenance
The Artist's Studio Sale (+); Christie's, London, 11 and 13 July, 1896, lot 23 (70 gns to Agnew's).
Alfred Waterhouse, R.A.
Anonymous sale; Sotheby's, Belgravia, 27 June 1978, lot 174.
with Christopher Wood, London, by whom sold to
Edmund J. and Suzanne McCormick until
Their sale; Sotheby's, New York, 28 February 1990, lot 157.
Private collection, Japan, until 2002.
Anonymous sale; Christie's, London, 27 November 2002, lot 2, where purchased by the present vendor.
Literature
Mrs Russell Barrington, The Life, Letters and Work of Frederic Leighton, London, 1906, vol. 2, pp. 90, 391.
Leonée and Richard Ormond, Lord Leighton, Yale, 1975, pp. 95, 156, no. 113.
Exhibited
London, Royal Academy, Exhibition of Works by the late Lord Leighton of Stretton, P.R.A., 1897, no. 145.
New Haven, Yale Center for British Art, The Edmund J. and Suzanne McCormick Collection, 1984, no. 21.

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Lot Essay

Leighton was raised in various European cities by parents who preferred to reside on the Continent than live in England. Although the family had sampled Rome and Florence, the artist's first prolonged stay in Venice came in 1864, after he had established himself in London. The architectural complexity of the Basilica of St Mark's, recently described by Ruskin as 'the most beautiful building in the world', impressed him greatly. Leighton relished describing the fall of light and shade on its jewel like surfaces and developed his pre-occupation with depicting the receding arch (later explored in his studies of Moorish buildings in Granada and Algiers). The sketch, and another study, was used for an uncompleted painting entitled The Mosaicists, (untraced) and Widow's Prayer, the artist's Royal Academy exhibit of 1865 (Cecil French Bequest, London, Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham; on loan to Leighton House, Kensington). An early owner was the distinguished architect, Alfred Waterhouse, R.A.

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