Overview

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Bernard Sleigh (1872-1954)
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Bernard Sleigh (1872-1954)

The Annunciation

Details
Bernard Sleigh (1872-1954)
The Annunciation
signed with monogram (lower right)
tempera on panel
9 x 9 in. (22.9 x 22.9 cm.)
Special Notice

No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 17.5% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.

Lot Essay

Sleigh was a member of the Birmingham Group and a passionate admirer of Burne-Jones, a native of the city who did much to determine the Group's artistic values by his own example and his influential visit to the Municipal School of Arts and Crafts in 1885. Sleigh's work often echoes that of his hero, and this characteristically off-beat rendering of the Annunciation is no exception. The chair on the right is based on those of King Arthur's knights in The Summons to the Quest, the first of the set of Holy Grail tapestries which were designed by Burne-Jones and made by Morris & Co. in the early 1890s: while the conception of the angel, holding something (lily flowers?) between his hands, seems to derive from that of the angel in The Star of Bethlehem, the colossal watercolour commissioned from Burne-Jones by Birmingham Corporation for the new City Art Gallery and completed in 1891. Sleigh is known to have revered this picture, placing flowers in front of it on Burne-Jones's birthday, and he was clearly fascinated by the figure of the angel; another watercolour in which it finds a reflection was included in the Last Romantics exhibition at the Barbican in 1989, no. 95 (illustrated in catalogue). Perhaps the explanation lies partly in his preoccupation with fairies. He admitted that he believed in them, and they feature in many of his designs.
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