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

Pan 'O thou, to whom Broad leaved fig trees even now foredoom Their ripen'd fruitage' (Keats, Endymion)

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

'O thou, to whom
Broad leaved fig trees even now foredoom
Their ripen'd fruitage'
(Keats, Endymion)
oil on canvas
60½ x 24½ in. (153.6 x 62.2 cm.)
Private collection.
E. Rhys, Sir Frederic Leighton, Bart, P.R.A., London, 1895, pp. 10, 65-6.
Mrs Russell Barrington, The Life, Letters and Work of Frederic Leighton, London, 1906, vol. 1, pp. 248-9, 258, 278, 300; vol. 2, pp. 45-6, 382.
E. Staley, Lord Leighton of Stretton, P.R.A., London, 1906, pp. 54-5, 232.
L. and R. Ormond, Lord Leighton, New Haven and London, 1975, pp. 35, 38, 151 (no. 32, as 'untraced').
L.S. Ferber and W.H. Gerdts, The New Path: Ruskin and the American Pre-Raphaelites, exh. Brooklyn Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1985, cat. pp. 119, 132 (note 61).
S.P. Casteras, English Pre-Raphaelitism and its Reception in America in the Nineteenth Century, London and Toronto, 1990, pp. 54, 195 (note 59).
C. Newall, The Art of Lord Leighton, Oxford and New York, pp. 24-5, illustrated in colour p. 22, pl. 10.
Fine Victorian Pictures, Drawings and Watercolours, sale catalogue, Christie's, London, 11 June 1993, note to lot 126.
Frederick Leighton, exh. Royal Academy, London, 1996, cat. p. 109, entry by L. Ormond for no. 11.
Privately in G.F. Watts' studio, Little Holland House, Kensington, 1856.
Manchester, Royal Manchester Institution, 1856, no. 241 or 368.
Included in the exhibition of British art that toured New York, Philadelphia and Boston in 1857-8, but withdrawn early in the itinerary.
In recent years on loan to Leighton House, Kensington.
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VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 20% on the buyer's premium.
Sale room notice
Please note the present painting is signed with the artist's monogram (lower left).

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Lot Essay

Pan is one of Leighton's earliest works, being only a year later than the famous Cimabue's Madonna (Royal Collection; on loan to the National Gallery, London), which had launched his career with such éclat when it was purchased by Queen Victoria at the Royal Academy of 1855. Having spent that summer in London, being introduced to society by his friend Adelaide Sartoris and meeting his fellow artists, Leighton had moved to Paris to complete his long continental apprenticeship, remaining there until he finally settled in London in 1859.

Pan and a companion work, Venus, which was sold in these Rooms on 11 June 1993 (lot 126), were early products of this period. In Paris Leighton felt the influence of French classicism, meeting Ingres, Ary Scheffer and other artists working in the academic tradition, and as a result conceived what his friend Robert Browning called a 'sudden taste' for 'pagan figures'. Among these were Pan and Venus, together with an Orpheus and Euridice subject entitled The Triumph of Music that he exhibited at the R.A. in 1856.

Browning particularly admired Pan, telling the American sculptress Harriet Hosmer that Leighton had painted 'a capital Pan enjoying himself in a dell'. The picture and its companion were also admired by Leighton's fellow artist G.F. Watts, who allowed them to be exhibited in his studio at Little Holland House. They displayed, he wrote, 'a wonderful perception of natural effects', so much so that they made his own work look 'flat and dim'. From Little Holland House they went on exhibition at the Royal Institution in Manchester, accompanied in the catalogue by a quote from the hymn to Pan in Keats's Endymion; and in 1857 Leighton allowed them to be included in the exhibition of modern British art, organised by William Michael Rossetti, that toured the west coast of America. This, however, proved a disaster. The nude figures upset the local Mrs Grundys and the pictures were hurriedly withdrawn; according to an understandably indignant Leighton, they were 'stowed away in a cupboard', eventually being rescued by his friend Fanny Kemble, the actress, who was a sister of Mrs Sartoris. Back in England, they disappeared for many years, surfacing only in recent times.

The design is different from that of 'The Great God Pan', an illustration to Elizabeth Barrett Browning's poem 'A Musical Instrument', that Leighton contributed to the Cornhill Magazine in July 1860.

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