George Frederic Watts, O.M., R.A. (1817-1904)
George Frederic Watts, O.M., R.A. (1817-1904)
George Frederic Watts, O.M., R.A. (1817-1904)
2 More
These lots have been imported from outside the EU … Read more
George Frederic Watts, O.M., R.A. (1817-1904)

Joan of Arc

George Frederic Watts, O.M., R.A. (1817-1904)
Joan of Arc
with signature 'G F WATTS' (lower right)
oil on panel
12 ¾ x 7 5/8 in. (32.4 x 19.5 cm.)
Alexander 'Alecco' Ionides (1840-1898)
with Agnew's, London.
Anonymous sale; Christie's, New York, 28 October 1981, lot 251.
Art Journal, XIX, 1880, p. 46.
M. Watts, Catalogue of the Works of G.F. Watts compiled by his Widow, manuscript, vol. I, p. 82.
V. Franklin Gould, G. F. Watts: The Last Great Victorian, New Haven and London, 2004, p. 147.
Probably, London, Dudley Gallery, Winter Exhibition, 1880 as Rehearsing the Tableau.
Possibly, London, Grosvenor Gallery, Collection of the Works of G. F. Watts, R. A., 1882, no. 132 as A Study in Armour, (lent by the artist).
London, Goupil Gallery, A Connoisseur's Treasures, 1895, no. 15.
Special notice
These lots have been imported from outside the EU or, if the UK has withdrawn from the EU without an agreed transition deal, from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice.

Brought to you by

Sarah Reynolds
Sarah Reynolds

Check the condition report or get in touch for additional information about this

If you wish to view the condition report of this lot, please sign in to your account.

Sign in
View condition report

Lot Essay

This appears to be the painting shown by Watts at the Dudley Gallery Winter Exhibition of 1880 as Rehearsing the Tableau (Art Journal, XIX, 1880, p.46). The painting was later retitled Joan of Arc. Depictions of women in armour were a recurring theme amongst Watts’ contemporaries. Millais painted a notable Joan of Arc, and Rossetti treated the subject numerous times. If Watts had a British heroine in mind, he might have thought of Britomart, celebrated in Spenser’s Faerie Queene as the virgin knight of Chastity, preserver of English virtue.

The sitter has been identified as Violet Lindsay (later the Duchess of Rutland), whom Watts portrayed in several other pictures of the same period. Lindsay was an artist herself, and renowned for portraits of other members of her circle, known as 'The Souls', finely executed in pencil or silver-point. Lindsay was one of the first exhibitors at the Grosvenor Gallery upon its opening in 1877, and she exhibited widely in Britain, France and the United States until her death in 1937. The Grosvenor Gallery was owned by her great-uncle Sir Coutts Lindsay. Mrs Watts' manuscript record of her husband's work notes that the suit of armour worn by Violet belonged to Sir Coutts.

The first owner of this picture was Alexander 'Alecco' Ionides (1840-1898), who with his father Alexander and his four siblings, was a leading patron and intimate friend of many in the Pre-Raphaelite circle. An Anglo Greek family who had originally settled in Manchester with the intention of exporting cotton to Greece and Turkey, the Ionides were significant patrons of Watts, especially after their move to Holland Park where they were neighbours. Alexander’s first commission went to Watts and the artist was to paint five generations of the family. Alecco was a notable collector of Tanagra figurines and Greek vases. The figurative subject of this picture would have appealed to him. His brother Constantine’s collection of over 1,000 works was bequeathed to the Victoria and Albert Museum after his death in 1900.

We are grateful to Nicholas Tromans for his assistance in preparing this catalogue entry.

More from The Joe Setton Collection: from Pre-Raphaelites to Last Romantics

View All
View All