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Thomas Baines (1820-1875)
THE PROPERTY OF A TRUST
Thomas Baines (1820-1875)

Koodoos, Luisi River, Zambesi Valley

Details
Thomas Baines (1820-1875)
Koodoos, Luisi River, Zambesi Valley
signed, inscribed ad dated 'T.BAINES / AUGT 1874 / KOODOOS LUISI RIVER ZAMBESI VALLEY' (lower right)
oil on canvas
20 x 26in. (50.8 x 66.1cm.)
Provenance
The Hon. Guy Cuthbert Dawnay (1848-1889), who commissioned the picture from the artist in South Africa, and thence by descent; sale, Christie's South Kensington, 29 May 1984, lot 94 (£60,000).
Private collection.
Anon. sale, Christie's London, 16 July 1993, lot 187 (£34,500).
Private collection.

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Lot Essay

Originally one of a group of fifteen oils commissioned by Dawnay and painted by Baines in Durban between October 1872 and October 1874, the subjects taken from incidents on Dawnay's travels and from Chapman's Zambezi expedition of 1861-4. Baines was at the Luisi River in Zimbabwe with James Chapman in December 1862, as the expedition tracked the course of the Zambezi east to the coast, after reaching the Victoria Falls from the west in July 1862. This one of the last of the Dawnay commissions, the Zambezi and Victoria Falls subjects painted by Baines from his Chapman stock images as souvenirs of Dawnay's own journey to the Falls in 1873.

The fourth son of the 7th Viscount Downe, Dawnay set out on his second hunting trip to Africa in March 1872, planning to hunt 'in the Amazarzi country' before returning to Natal and then going on to see 'the Victoria Falls of the Zambezi, and unexplored country beyond.' Dawnay, just 24, was on his second trip to Africa, having sailed out in 1870 on the same ship as the Rhodes brothers: 'Tall and athletic - the Zulus called him Madhluimshe, 'he who outstrips the ostrich' - he was a man of rare nobility of character, of wide and varied interests and with a zest for romantic and chivalrous adventure that his means enabled him to gratify freely. He would have liked Baines to accompany him to the Zambesi. Such companionship had never come Baines' way before.' (J.P.R. Wallis, Thomas Baines, Cape Town, 1976, p.212)

Dawnay recalled his meeting with Baines in Pietermaritzburg, and his commissions for pictures, in a letter to his mother ('I was lucky in Maritzburg in coming across Baines the Traveller, who did those pictures we saw at the Crystal Palace before I started here last time ... He's such a jolly old man, and has promised to do me 9 or 10 pictures of different subjects I chose, animals or that sort of thing ... He wants to go from the South and go look for Livingstone if the expedition just sent fails as he thinks probable. It was rare luck coming across him.') and again in volume 1 of his journals: '... having heard that Baines the explorer was in town having just come from the Gold Fields, I went and called on him, and stayed a long time finding out all I could about the route to the Victoria Falls, etc, and finishing by getting him to promise to do nine or ten pictures of animals chiefly - Eland, Buffalo, etc, etc - one of them to be a picture of my own adventure last time with a rhinoceros. As getting some of his pictures has been my very great wish for two years now, I think myself very lucky to have met him.' The present picture is one of the last of his commissions, when Dawnay had returned from the Victoria Falls, reached in December 1873. He was back in Durban by mid-January 1874 and recounted that he 'went in the afternoon, and saw Baines, and found he had finished two more pictures for me and was in the middle of two others - all beautiful ones I needn't say.' and on 31 January reports further that 'Baines has finished two pictures he has been painting for me - a Koodoo and an Eland - and is going to do some more now, and I have given him some beautiful subjects.' (entries from Guy Dawnay's letters and journals quoted in Dr F.R. Bradlow 'The Private Journals of Guy Dawnay', Quarterly Bulletin South African Library, 48 (1) 1993, pp.32-44). The Dawnay commission came towards the end of Baines' career at a time when he was beset with debts from the failure of the South African Gold Fields Exploration Company and had reverted to the practice of painting on commission and lecturing to raise funds. Baines died of dysentery in Durban on 8 May 1875. Dawnay went on to serve in the Zulu War of 1879, and in the Egyptian and Suakim campaigns in the 1880s, and was MP for North Riding between those campaigns from 1882-85. He embarked from Mombasa on an Emin Pasha relief expedition in January 1889, believing he might relieve Stanley's expedition, but was killed by a wounded buffalo while out hunting on 28 February.

Ten of Dawnay's pictures (not including the present canvas) were exhibited in the artist's native town in August 1975 (King's Lynn Museum, Thomas Baines 1820-1875: Traveller & Pictureman) and thirteen of the fifteen pictures commissioned by Dawnay were subsequently sold by his heirs at Christie's (27 October 1982, lots 116-121; 29 May 1984, lots 93-98; 22 October 1991, lot 56).
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