Overview

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Sir Peter Blake, R.A. (b. 1932)
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Sir Peter Blake, R.A. (b. 1932)

Leslie Waddington with Portrait of a Young Man by Hans Memling

Details
Sir Peter Blake, R.A. (b. 1932)
Leslie Waddington with Portrait of a Young Man by Hans Memling
signed, inscribed and dated ''Leslie Waddington with Portrait of a/Young man by Hans Memling'/Peter Blake - completed 1999.' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas board
12 1/8 x 10 1/8 in. (35.7 x 30.8 cm.)
Painted in 1995-1999
Provenance
Acquired directly from the artist by Leslie Waddington.
Exhibited
London, Waddington Custot Galleries, Peter Blake: Portraits and People, November 2015 - January 2016, no. 31 (illustrated in colour, p. 132; detail illustrated on the back cover).
Special notice

Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.

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Katharine Arnold
Katharine Arnold

Lot Essay

'This is a finished portrait. I thought you would like to see one: it is not a hint – just imagine how long Memling would have taken to do a double portrait’ - L. Waddington

Leslie Waddington with Portrait of a Young Man by Hans Memling, painted over a four-year period in the late 1990s, demonstrates the exactitude of Blake’s portraiture, one of the many strands of his art. The precision is both a visual one, descended from the realism of the Flemish 15th-century portraiture openly acknowledged by the inclusion of a painted reproduction behind the art dealer’s head, and a psychological one. The artist’s extreme attentiveness to the nuances of facial expression – the lips slightly open, as if he were about to say something, and the eyes turned piercingly to an unseen object of his attention – makes for a compelling ‘speaking likeness’. Leslie was well accustomed to Blake’s sometimes painfully slow pace of production. Both to tease him good-naturedly and to prod him into completing the picture, in 1997, halfway through the portrait’s long gestation, he sent the artist a postcard of a Memling portrait – the same one that ended up in this very painting as a kind of visual punchline to the private joke – as a gentle and humorous reminder that while he may have been a young man himself when work on the portrait commenced, he might be nearing his dotage when he finally got to see the result. The message on his card begins: ‘This is a finished portrait. I thought you would like to see one: it is not a hint – just imagine how long Memling would have taken to do a double portrait.’ Based, as was Blake’s usual practice, on a tracing of a detailed photograph of his sitter, the depiction of Leslie’s face captures both the moment of the camera’s shutter and the long process of reincarnating that person’s image in paint, a process imbued with accumulated memories’ (M. Livingstone, excerpt from ‘A partial portrait of Leslie Waddington as art collector’, July 2016).

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