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Sir John Lavery, R.A., R.S.A., R.H.A. (1856-1941)
Property from a Family Trust
Sir John Lavery, R.A., R.S.A., R.H.A. (1856-1941)

The Palladian Bridge, Wilton House

Sir John Lavery, R.A., R.S.A., R.H.A. (1856-1941)
The Palladian Bridge, Wilton House
signed 'J Lavery' (lower left), signed again, inscribed and dated 'THE PALADIAN [sic] BRIDGE, WILTON HOUSE. 1920/by JOHN LAVERY' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas-board
10 x 14 in. (25.3 x 35.5 cm.)
Anonymous sale; Phillips, London, 26 November 1996, lot 42.
Anonymous sale; Sotheby's, London, 13 May 2005, lot 51, where purchased by the present owner.
Dublin, Frederick Gallery, June 1997, no. 46.

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André Zlattinger
André Zlattinger

Lot Essay

Ten years after his election as Associate of the Royal Academy, Lavery had a change of heart. He had submitted a portrait of his wife, Hazel, as his Diploma work, but following excellent reviews in 1921, he swapped this for The Double Cube Room, Wilton House (1921, Royal Academy of Arts), a painting of the previous summer. He had gone to Wilton as the guest of the Herbert family expressly to paint a 'portrait interior' of Inigo Jones's celebrated saloon designed around the magisterial family portrait by Van Dyck. However, touring the gardens, he also succumbed to the charm of the splendid Palladian bridge constructed in 1737 by the ninth Earl of Pembroke to span the river Nadder which flows close to the house. The present picture shows a stretch of the river, with the bridge a hundred yards upstream on the left, and the warm ochre stone work of the house beyond the trees to the right. One other sketch of the same size, a close-up view of the approach to the bridge, with members of the Herbert family, is known.
On the opposite bank, Lavery indicates a small group of figures that may be of some significance. At this spot Winston Churchill produced his more conventional view of the bridge (circa 1920, National Trust, Chartwell). Churchill had in 1915, become Lavery's pupil (see Lady Spencer Churchill, foreword, in D. Coombs (ed.), Churchill, His Paintings, London, 1967, pp. 128-9). At that time, dismissed from the Admiralty and before he took a commission in the Royal Scots Fusiliers, he worked briefly in Lavery's studio. In 1920 tuition was resumed and according to Herbert family legend, the two worked in friendly competition on the motif at Wilton. It must be said however, that Churchill's picture lacks the suavity of the present Lavery. Garden scenes were already the Irish painter's forte, as much as portrait-interiors. In the present instance however, it is the architectural focal point, rather than weekend party guests that catches his inquisitive eye.

We are very grateful to Professor Kenneth McConkey for preparing the catalogue entries for lots 178 and 181.

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