Lot 205
  • 205

Robert Bateman

10,000 - 15,000 GBP
35,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Robert Bateman
  • The Three Ravens
  • watercolour with bodycolour and gum arabic


Fine Art Society, London, March 1976;
Robin de Beaumont by whom gifted to his son


Dudley Gallery, London, 1868;
Barbican Art Gallery, London, The Last Romantics – The Romantic Tradition in British Art, Burne-Jones to Stanley Spencer, 1989, no.25 as The Dead Knight;
Neue Pinakothek, Munich and The Prado, Madrid, Victoriansiche Malerei, 1993, no.73 as The Dead Knight;
Tate Gallery, London, Haus der Kunst, Munich, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, The Age of Rossetti, Burne-Jones & Watts – Symbolism in Britain 1860-1910, 1997, no.19 as The Dead Knight;
Tate Britain, London and Altes Nationalgalerie, Berlin and Fundacio ‘La Caixa’, Madrid, Pre-Raphaelite Vision – Truth to Nature, 2004-5, no.143


Christopher Newall, Victorian Watercolours, 1987, pp.103-6, illustrated plate 71;
Elizabeth Prettejohn, Rossetti and his Circle, 1997, illustrated p.34 Fig.29
Amanda Kavanagh, ‘Robert Bateman: A True Victorian’ in Apollo, September 1989, pp.174-9

Catalogue Note

This haunting watercolour is probably Bateman’s most famous work and has a distinguished exhibition history. Its melancholic timbre is reminiscent of Burne-Jones’ watercolours of the 1860s such as The Merciful Knight (Birmingham City Art Gallery) and Green Summer (private collection). It was formerly known as The Dead Knight, referring to the figure stretched out in a meadow amid cow-parsley growing beside a spring, but the trio of black birds amongst the trees link the picture to a seventeenth century English folk poem The Three Ravens. It was as The Three Ravens that it was first exhibited at the Dudley Gallery in 1868, one of his fourteen exhibits there between 1865 and 1874. Bateman probably encountered the poem in Francis James Child’s English and Scottish Ballads, published in 1861;

There were three ravens sat on a tree,
They were as blacke as they might be,
With a downe, derrie, derrie, derrie, downe, downe.

Downe in yonder greene field,
There lies a knight slain under his shield.
His hounds they lie downe at his feete,
So well they their master keepe.