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Alfred Bell (1832-1895), and studio
The last supper
oil on panel, shaped top
58½ x 98 in. (148.5 x 249 cm.)

Lot Essay

For many years the present picture together with six further panels formed part of an altar piece in St James's Church, Piccadilly. The original setting for the panels is unknown, but they were donated to St James's, the parish church for the Royal Academy, by a Mr Abbott in the 1870s. In 1941, during the second world war, the church was bombed and two panels were destroyed. The remaining five panels were removed and stored until 1953 when they were relocated to St. Paul's, Marton, Blackpool, which was being re-modelled under the instruction of the architect, and president of the Royal Academy, Sir Albert Richardson. They remained in St Paul's Marton until 2004.

Alfred Bell (1832-1895) with his business partner Richard Clayton (1827-1913) formed Clayton and Bell, one of the most prolific firms specialising in ecclesiastical decoration, including stained glass, wall panels and mosaics. They were involved in the interior decoration of the Palace of Westminster under the guidance of Barry and Pugin. In its heyday Clayton and Bell employed 300 staff and by 1883 they were granted a royal warrant by Queen Victoria after producing panels for Windsor Castle. With Salviati they were responsible for the mosaics for the Albert Memorial and a fine wooden model of the memorial made by Clayton and Bell is in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum.

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