sale of Victorian and British Impressionist Pictures including Drawings and Watercolours on Thursday, 4 June 2009 will offer works by the leading British artists of late the 19th and early 20th centuries, from the Pre-Raphaelites to the British Impressionists. This auction welcomes the return of important works on paper and includes an impressive selection of drawings and watercolours. Highlights of the sale include Portrait of Annie Miller, 1860, an impressive drawing by Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882) which is offered from the Collection of L.S. Lowry, R.A. (1887-1976), is signed twice on the backboard by Lowry and which hung in the artist's living room (estimate: £200,000-300,000); A Village Maiden, 1886, which is a newly discovered painting by Sir George Clausen, R.A., R.W.S., R.I. (1852-1944) (estimate: £100,000-150,000) and The Roll of Fate by Walter Crane, R.W.S. (1845-1915) (estimate: £180,000-250,000). The breadth of beauty to be found in the human figure, the landscape, nature and the imagination is reflected in the high standard of captivating works featured throughout this sale.
Personifying the passion and drama which was internationally celebrated during the Romantic period, Annie Miller (1835-1925, estimate: £200,000-300,000) was a striking model, from the humblest of backgrounds, who enthralled each artist for whom she sat and was the subject of a permanent rift between two of the Pre-Raphaelite Brothers: William Holman Hunt (1827-1910) and Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882). Hunt, for whom Miller sat for Awakening of Conscience (Tate Gallery), had hoped to marry Miller once she had learnt to write and conduct herself as a lady. Against Hunts instructions Miller sat for Rossetti many times resulting in Dantes Dream, 1856 (Tate Gallery), Cassandra, 1861 (British Museum) and Helen of Troy, 1863 (Kunsthalle, Hamburg). Lowry was a passionate devotee of Rossetti; he acquired this striking drawing of Annie Miller in 1966 from Agnews, London. Other Pre-Raphaelite works from Lowrys collection which have been sold at Christies include Proserpine, 1877, which made auction history in November 1987 when it became the first Victorian picture to exceed £1 million and Pandora, a magnificent red chalk drawing from 1869, which was sold in June 2000 and still holds the record price for a Victorian work on paper (£2,643,750).
The Roll of Fate by Walter Crane R.W.S. (1845-1915) (estimate: £180,000-250,000) is a particularly fine example of the artists work. Exhibited at the Grosvenor Gallery in 1882 this painting displays the profound influence that the Old Masters had on the artist, further to his travels in Italy; it is one of the first of Cranes later works in which he freely explored his fondness of allegory. The subject matter relates to a poem, written by Omar Khayyám, which was admired by many of the Pre-Raphaelite circle and which Crane is known to have first encountered when visiting Burne-Jones in the 1870s. Depicting an angel attempting to alter the course of events by preventing Time from unrolling the scroll on which the destiny of mankind is recorded, the subject was inspired by two bereavements that Crane suffered early in 1881: first the death of his fourth infant son in January and then his sister Lucy in May. The artist himself noted that his allegorical works were particularly appreciated in Germany, where many are now held in public collections.
Study for The Magic Circle by John William Waterhouse, R.A. (1848-1917) (estimate: £30,000-50,000), is a compositional sketch for one of Waterhouses most intriguing paintings, The Magic Circle, 1886, which is now in the permanent collection of Tate. The amount of time and effort that Waterhouse clearly invested in this preparatory study underscores how seriously he viewed the final canvas. A number of Pre-Raphaelite images may have inspired this work, ranging from the acclaimed Medea by Frederick Sandys (1829-1904) exhibited at the Academy in 1869, Burne Joness The Magic Circle, circa 1880 and Rossettis Astarte Syriaca, 1877. This painting exemplifies the growing theatricality of Waterhouses works and also reveals the influences of Impressionism which filtered through to British artists via Jules Bastien-Lepage; this can be seen in his experimentation with paint consistency and application which together enable the foreground and background to dissolve, enhancing the sorceresss dramatic presence. Waterhouses capacity to employ these new techniques in a seemingly conventional composition set him apart from many of his contemporaries.
Ethereal, wistful beauty is captured in the alluring Portrait study of Olive Maxse, 1896, by Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones BT., A.R.A., R.W.S. (1833-1898) (estimate: £35,000-45,000), which is thought to be a study for his famous, yet unfinished, painting The Sirens (Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, Florida). Burne-Jones is known to have voiced his high regard for the young Maxse, saying I think you beautiful and an old artist may tell a young girl that without hurt or blame
Another work with a young girl, this time a child, as the subject is The Portrait of Margaret Fuller Maitland by Sir John Everett Millais, BT., P.R.A. (1829-1896) (estimate: £70,000-100,000). This is an exciting and important discovery, known only as having been exhibited at the Society of Portrait Painters in 1896, the year of Millaiss death and from a reference in an account book by Millaiss wife, Effie, in the early 1860s. This enchanting work, has stellar provenance, having been passed by inheritance from the sitter, who was the daughter of William Fuller-Maitland of Stansted Hall in Essex. A collector with an excellent eye, Maitland also acquired Millaiss Ophelia before his death in 1876 and the picture remained in the family until 1892 or 1893. Notable provenance is also found in the very rare intriguing painting Heloise and Abelard by Robert Bateman (1842-1922) (£30,000-50,000), which was previously in the collection of Lincoln Kirstein (1907-1996), the co-founder of the New York City Ballet and a great figure in the cultural life of New York during the post war period.
Sir George Clausen, R.A., R.W.S., R.I. (1852-1944) was one of the leading British Impressionists; his painting A Village Maiden (estimate: £100,000-150,000), represents a rare, early and particularly beautiful example of his oeuvre. The girl holds the viewers eye, with an unwavering and intimate intensity. The light, colour, composition and subject matter combine to produce one of the most charming Clausens to feature at auction in recent years. His focus on the subject of country folk and the rural poor who were removed from the constraints of set-piece compositions was, like the work of the distinguished photographer Peter Henry Emerson, part of a new set of attitudes which favoured naturalism over the ideal and were considered revolutionary in the 1880s.
Important works of exceptional quality are further exemplified by three Myles Birket Foster, R.W.S. (1825-1899) watercolours: Hay wain (estimate: £30,000-50,000); Harvest time (£30,000-50,000) and Ben Ledi from Callender, Perthshire (estimate: £50,000-80,000). These pictures are among the largest examples that the artist produced, and contain the precision, detail, composition, and subject-matter associated with the very finest examples of his work. In original condition, with good vibrant colour, the pictures represent a unique opportunity to acquire some of the greatest examples of the medium. The Tuileries Gardens, morning, 1913, by Sir Herbert James Gunn, R.A. (1893-1964) (estimate: £50,000-80,000) is a charming painting from a series of small plein-air views which Gunn executed whilst studying at the Académie Julian. This is an exceptional eample of the artists acute ability to capture the Parisian light and his powers of observation and elegant, sparing, execution.
Elsewhere, further highlights include four landscapes and views by Edward Seago, R.W.S., R.B.A. (1910-1974), one of Britains leading Post-Impressionists: Sunlight and shadows, Rome (estimate: £15,000-25,000); White Phlox (estimate: £15,000-25,000); The lock at Merricourt (estimate: £5,000-8,000) and Hotel de Ville, Honfleur (estimate: £5,000-8,000).
A group of 14 splendid topographical works on paper provide depictions of foreign climes, including views of Egypt, Italy, France, Greece, Switzerland and Israel. Nine works by Edward Lear (1812-1888) range from Arab Encampment in Wadi Feiran, Egypt (estimate: £40,000-60,000) and a View of Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives with figures in the foreground (estimate: £15,000-25,000) to A view of Nice, 1865, (estimate: £12,000-18,000) and The Temple of Hephaestus, Athens, Greece, 1848 (estimate: £8,000-12,000). Further examples include Souvenir of Egypt, 1961, by Sir William Russell Flint, R.A., P.R.W.S., R.S.W. (1880-1969) (estimate: £12,000-18,000) and two works by William Callow R.W.S. (1812-1908): A view of the Ca Foscari on the Grand Canal, Venice (estimate: £5,000-7,000) and A view Geneva Harbour and the Old Town from the Left Bank, 1858 (estimate: £4,000-6,000).