Henry Herbert La Thangue, R.A. (1859-1929)
Henry Herbert La Thangue, R.A. (1859-1929)

Girl with a puppy

Henry Herbert La Thangue, R.A. (1859-1929)
Girl with a puppy
signed 'H.H. LA THANGUE.' (lower left)
oil on canvas
18 ½ x 10 5/8 in. (47 x 27 cm.)
Anonymous sale; Christie's, London, 12 June 1998, lot 71.
Anonymous sale; Christie's, London, 11 July 2013, lot 99.

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Lot Essay

In this study of a woman sitting in front of shrubs with a puppy on her lap, the subject throws back her head in a characteristic way, as if acknowledging a friendly remark. Animation, the sense of movement, separated the painted portrait of the fin-de-siècle from the stock poses of the photographer's studio and in the present instance, the sitter, Kate La Thangue, the painter's wife, was more than a model.

Katherine, née Rietiker (1859-1941), was a familiar figure in artistic circles. Known as Kate, she was born in London to an immigrant family that originated in Zurich, and prior to her marriage to La Thangue in 1885 she had worked as an actress and artist's model - having posed for Val Prinsep's At the Golden Gate in 1883 (Manchester City Art Galleries). Her stage name prior to her marriage was Kate Leeson and she appeared at the Royal Adelphi Theatre during the 1883-5 seasons, in the role of Julia, in a short popular farce entitled Turn Him Out. This was a warm-up play for the more serious melodrama on the bill and its run came to an end on 28 March 1885, when Miss Leeson had appeared in 178 performances. Thereafter she and La Thangue were married and they left London to live briefly at Rye. By 1886 the couple had moved to Horsey Mere in Norfolk, where the painter found inspiration in the flat landscape and daily activities of fieldworkers and Broadsmen.

Two other portraits of Kate - A Gaslight Study, 1887 (Atkinson Art Gallery, Southport) and A Study (Resting after the Game) (1888) are known. These precede the present canvas which, on stylistic grounds, must date to the early 1890s. Kate also appears with others in Punch: A Study in Lamplight, 1893 (private collection) and In the Orchard, 1893 (Bradford Art Galleries and Museums). In this latter picture her dress is remarkably similar to that in the present work.


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