Leverhulme: Masterpieces from a Great British Collection

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Within the context of the Old Master & British Paintings Evening Sale, to be held in London on 4 December, Sotheby’s are honoured to be offering three Victorian masterpieces from the private collection of the industrialist William Hesketh Lever, 1st Viscount Leverhulme and his son William Hulme Lever. The world famous Leverhulme Collection included over 20,000 items of the finest furniture, objets d’art and paintings, bought by the great Victorian industrialists, the Viscounts Leverhulme. The three paintings by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Holman Hunt and James-Jacques-Joseph Tissot are among the artists’ most distinguished works. We are delighted to be presenting these pictures in an international touring exhibition that will show them for the very first time outside Britain.

A Christmas Carol was painted by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, the charismatic leader of the Pre-Raphaelites – the most avant-garde and revolutionary artists of their generation. The picture has been in the private collection of the Leverhulme family for the last nine decades, only occasionally exhibited. Dating from 1867 and featuring the model Ellen Smith in an opulent golden gown playing a stringed instrument before a richly embroidered tapestry, the painting depicts Rossetti’s favourite themes of female beauty, music and sumptuous colour. Painted during the most radical period of British art history, this is the most important painting by Rossetti to be offered for sale in recent history.

Tuscan Girl Plaiting Straw is among the most delicate and charming paintings by the man who painted the famous The Light of the World and The Lady of Shalott. Painted in 1869, it depicts the Pre-Raphaelite painter’s love of Italy – its people and the traditions of its countryside. A little girl with big, brown eyes sings to a pet dove while she makes ribbons of plaited straw, a glorious Italian landscape behind her. This painting is well-known from exhibitions in Britain but has never been seen abroad, until now.

A Frenchman by birth, friend of the Impressionists and a painter of scenes of contemporary life in London and Paris, James-Jacques-Joseph Tissot created pictures that were immediately popular, exemplified in such works as A Visit to the Yacht. Talented, fashionable and successful, champagne was always kept chilled in his studio for visitors to his beautiful and elegant home. This sophisticated glamour was reflected in his paintings of women dressed in silk gowns on board ships, in flower gardens and in the streets of the modern cities.


Grant Ford
+44 20 7293 5497


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