Outstanding works by British, Irish and Scottish artists will lead Sotheby’s sale of British and Irish Art in London on Thursday, 10 May 2012. The company is redesigning its traditional auctions of Victorian and Edwardian Art, and Irish Art and these sales will be retitled British and Irish Art: Victorian–Early 20th Century–Sporting & Marine–Scottish–Irish. These auctions will take place in May and November and will bring together the finest drawings, watercolours and oil paintings from the Pre-Raphaelites to the British Impressionists. In addition, these two sales will have dedicated sections for Victorian Art, Early 20th Century British Art, Marine Art, Sporting Art, The Scottish Sale and The Irish Sale. Celebrating the distinct character of British and Irish Art will no doubt engage collectors worldwide, in response to the demands of new buyers who collect across a variety of genres. Comprising 185 lots, the sale is estimated to bring is excess of £7 million.
Victorian Art: Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Arthur Hughes
Joan of Arc by Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882) is one of a series of depictions of passionate heroines that the artist painted from the mid-1860s. The subject of Joan of Arc was a character that Rossetti portrayed as a sensual warrior-maid in a battlefield tent decorated with Fleur de Lys motifs. Kissing the Sword of Deliverance, she makes her final prayers before battle and turns her eyes heavenwards. The cold shining armour and chainmail contrasts with the warm flesh tones, embroidered tunic and cascading, auburn hair. The theme of women, beauty and battle are interwoven in the present watercolour, dated 1864 and estimated at £250,000-350,000. It was commissioned by Louisa, Lady Ashburton, who was famous for her friendship with many of the greatest luminaries of the period and as a liberal patron of the arts. It is difficult to be certain about which of Rossetti’s models sat for Joan of Arc, and likely that such an ideal of female beauty is an amalgamation of the features of several women. In 1882, a few days before the artist died, he finished another version of the subject, proving his enduring fascination for this willful and defiant heroine.
Sir William Orpen (1878-1931) is celebrated for his masterful portraiture. The May sale will bring to the market for the first time two fine portraits that embody a life-long love match. Portrait of Rose, Fourth Marchioness of Headfort, estimated at £300,000-500,000, and Portrait of Geoffrey, Fourth Marquis of Headfort, estimated at £60,000-80,000, are being presented for sale together for two reasons. The sitters, Geoffrey Thomas Taylour and Rose Boote, fell in love in the face of disrepute and disgrace, and it was a love that endured until Geoffrey’s death in 1943. Rose commissioned the portraits and they were first exhibited at the Royal Academy in London in the 147th Summer Exhibition of 1915, by which time Orpen was unquestionably the leading portrait painter of his generation in the Royal Academy. When Headfort House was sold in 1949 to become a school, the Marchioness retained the portraits, passing them on her death in 1958, within the family. Orpen has opted for a three-quarter length portrait of Rose and takes full advantage of the striking seed pearl and lace filigree, and ermine fringed sleeves of her dress. The gloved arms are exquisitely realised and her face is framed by diamond pendant earrings. The subtle modelling of Rose’s face, neck and shoulders is a masterly characterisation of the fourth Marchioness. With the outbreak of the First World War and the prospect of separation, Rose commissioned the portrait of her husband as a simple, informal likeness by which he would be remembered. The fourth Marquis would serve in Gallipoli, Salonika and France and some of his resolve is seen in the folded-arms and steel-blue eyes.
You can read the full article via ArtDaily here.