Marcus Stone, R.A. (1840-1921)
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Marcus Stone, R.A. (1840-1921)

'My Lady is a Widow and Childless' 'Tis better to be lowly born, and range with humble livers in content, than to be perk'd up in a glistering grief, and wear a golden sorrow' William Shakespeare, The Life of King Henry VIII, act II, scene 3.

Details
Marcus Stone, R.A. (1840-1921)
'My Lady is a Widow and Childless'
'Tis better to be lowly born, and range with humble livers in content, than to be perk'd up in a glistering grief, and wear a golden sorrow'

William Shakespeare, The Life of King Henry VIII, act II, scene 3.
signed 'MARCUS STONE.' (lower left)
oil on canvas
21 7/8 x 14½ in. (55.6 x 36.8 cm.)
Provenance
Anonymous sale; Christie's, London, 10 March 1933, lot 83, as 'A Happy Family' (10 gns to Paris).
Anonymous sale; Sotheby's, London, 21 March 1990, lot 218.
with The Fine Art Society, London, until 1993.
The Forbes Collection; Christie's, London, 19 February 2003, lot 259.
Exhibited
Chichester, The Bishop's Palace, All for Love, 1994, no. 40.
Special notice

VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 20% on the buyer's premium.

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Lot Essay

This picture, a smaller version of one of Stone's masterpieces with the same name, is conceived as a celebration of the joys of family life. A humble labourer, employed in digging a trench beside a wall, is interrupted in his task by the arrival of his family who bring him lunch. Though 'lowly born', as the attendant quotation from one of Shakespeare's more obscure plays implies, they are happy, united in their love, and 'content'. The contrast with the widow, observing them from behind the garden wall which forms a barrier between them, is marked. Her gabled mansion can be seen behind her, but the emotional barrenness of her life is emphasised by the dead tree above her head, and the unkempt nature of her garden.

The finished picture (sold in these Rooms, 19 February 2003, lot 14) delighted the critics. Baldry (op. cit.) noted that 'indeed it is one of his best paintings'. The Art Journal commented: 'At a time when too many of our painters are timidly witholding from new experiment, it is a pleasure to find an artist of Marcus Stone's reputation so boldly enlarging the scope of his labours. The historic gives way to the idyllic, and in place of some domestic incident in the life of a Tudor king, enriched with the resources of learned and accurate research, Mr Stone has found an opportunity of graceful design in a simple study of rustic life'.

Another (slightly larger) version of the final picture, measuring 110 x 74 cm., is in the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool.

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