Edward Henry Fahey, R.I. (1844-1907)
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Edward Henry Fahey, R.I. (1844-1907)

A girl playing with a cat in an interior

Details
Edward Henry Fahey, R.I. (1844-1907)
A girl playing with a cat in an interior
signed 'EDWD. H. FAHEY. RI.' (lower left)
oil on canvas
36 x 28 in. (91.5 x 71.7 cm.)
Provenance
Anonymous sale; Sotheby's, London, 29 February 1984, lot 171.
with Christopher Wood, London, where purchased by the present owners.
Special notice

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Clare Keiller
Clare Keiller

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Lot Essay

Fahey was a painter in both oils and watercolours of landscapes, portraits and genre subjects, who studied at the Royal Academy after 1869. He lived primarily in London but travelled throughout the Continent, seeking inspiration for his work. He was a member of a group of artists known as 'The Poetry Without Grammar School' who greatly admired the work of their contemporary Burne-Jones. He was elected a member of the Royal Institute of British Watercolourists in 1872, and exhibited at the Royal Academy, Royal Scottish Academy and Royal Hibernian Academy.

This intriguing interior with sumptuous decorative details such the brass jardinières, Japanese-style titami floor-matting and bamboo hanging pots full of scented geraniums, and other ornate fabrics and pieces of furniture. During the second half of the 19th century travel to the Far East became much more possible, the influence of which could shortly after be seen in interior decoration and fashion: “In its earliest phase, the Aesthetic Movement was dominated by the vogue for Japanese art, which was the most important of the external influences on European design during the second half of the Nineteenth Century. The Aesthetes fetishized blue and white china and swooned over oriental prints, and Westernized versions of Japanese colours, decoration and forms were adopted within almost every area of the decorative arts” (J. Banham, S. Macdonald and J. Porter, Victorian Interior Style, London, 1995, p. 111). A similar decorative scheme could be found at Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema's Townshend House, in Regent's Park, which was faithfully recorded in watercolour by his daughter, Anna (The Drawing Room, Townshend House, 10 September 1885, Royal Academy of Arts). The embroidered oriental wall-hangings which frame the sitter in her vivid red velvet dress are comparable to those seen in Fahey's Tea Time and Treats (circa 1890, private collection).
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