Lot 34
  • 34

Edmund Blair Leighton

60,000 - 80,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Edmund Blair Leighton
  • A Picnic Party
  • signed and dated l.l.: E.B.L. 1920
  • oil on canvas
  • 55 by 83cm., 21½ by 32½in.


Purchased from the artist by Louis Wolff & Co.;
Acquired by a member of the Toner family, England and thence by descent to Monsignor Tom Toner, with whom it remained until 2012  

Catalogue Note

The artist's daughter recalled the picnics on the river Waveney near her parents Norfolk house at Kirby Kane: 'My family delighted in picnics on the river, often shared with members of other families. Picnics then were not at all the light-hearted affairs they are today, but meals which involved complicated preparation. Food, plates, cloth and cutlery were packed in a large hamper and there was a separate tin container for the kettle and the methylated stove on which it was to be boiled' (Sophie Leighton Harding, Sophie, An Edwardian Childhood, 2012, p.99). A Picnic Party is a romanticised celebration of those idyllic carefree-days on the river-bank, set in Regency dress. Two beautiful young women are enjoying a summer's day, with cake and tea served in fine china in the cool shade of a chestnut tree. They are being serenaded by their handsome companion who has rowed them down the river. The Blair Leighton family kept a rowing boat at Ellingham Mill on the Waveney and it is probably this boat that appears in the picture. Blair Leighton painted many pictures on the Waveney, often including a rowing boat and with a romantic frisson; including Elopement of 1898 (private collection) and Market Day of 1900 (private collection). A year before he painted the present picture Blair Leighton painted another composition with the same title A Picnic Party, which depicts a scene that might be regarded as a prequel, showing the trio rowing down the river with brown and white cows in pasture on the banks.

This picture will be included in Kara Lysandra Ross' forthcoming catalogue raisonee of the artist's work.