Lot 27
  • 27

Marianne Stokes

Estimate
50,000 - 70,000 GBP
Sold
87,500 GBP
bidding is closed

Description

  • Marianne Stokes
  • The Queen and the Page
  • signed with initials within a painted cartouche l.l. and inscribed with verse u.l. to u.r. 
  • oil on canvas

Provenance

George McCulloch of 184 Queen's Gate, London and thence to his wife Mrs Coutts Michie by whom sold Christie's, 30 May 1913, lot 311 to 'Wallis';
Charles Ketser in 1970;
Private collection

Exhibited

St Ives Show Day, spring 1896;
London, New Gallery, 9th Summer Exhibition, 1896, no.9;
London, Guildhall Art Gallery, 1900, no.93;
Royal Academy, Winter 1909, not numbered;
Wolverhampton City Art Gallery, Atkinson Art Gallery in Southport and Mercer Art Gallery in Harrogate, Utmost Fidelity - The Painting Lives of Marianne and Adrian Stokes, 2009, not numbered

Literature

Engraved by Franz Hanfstaengl, 1896;
Sheffield Independent, 25 April 1896, p.8;
Harriet Ford, 'The work of Mrs Adrian Stokes', The Studio, April 1900,  p.153;
Wilfrid Meynell, 'Mr & Mrs Adrian Stokes', The Art Journal, July 1900, illustrated p.197;
Walter Shaw Sparrow, Women Painters of the World, 1905;
Magdalen Evans, Utmost Fidelity - The Painting Lives of Marianne and Adrian Stokes, 2009, pp.53, 61-64, 66, 85, 86, 105, illustrated p.63

Catalogue Note

'It was a page without renown,
Blonde was his hair, light was his mein,
And he bore up the silken gown
Of the young Queen.'

THERE ONCE WAS A KING
Heinrich Heine, 1844

In the 1890s the Austrian-born Marianne Stokes (neé Priendelsberger) was drawn to romances from European folklore and literature for inspiration. In this mode she painted St Elizabeth of Hungary Spinning for the Poor in 1895 and Aucassin and Nicolette in 1898 (Sotheby's, New York, 29 October 1987, lot 190). These pictures contrasted with her earlier Realist style demonstrated in pictures like Lantern Light of 1888 (sold in these rooms 17 May 2011, lot 69).

The quotation inscribed upon the painting is from the 1844 German poem by Heinrich Heine's There Once was a King which told of the fated love of a page for his mistress and her reciprocal love for him. The painting was described as ‘…an imaginative work of great power and beauty, depicting the story of Heine’s poems. The lady is walking through the fair grounds of the palace pleasaunce – her train carried by her attendant and lover. Both are in sumptuous attire, and one hardly knows which to admire the more – the magnificent gold brocading of the Queen’s robes or the exquisite embroidery of the page’s dress. Highly decorative in scheme – charming in colour and elaborate in detail.’ (St Ives Weekly Summary, 11 April 1896) The art critic Wilfrid Meynell wrote of the picture; ‘… In the grêle lady the artist has drawn a clear round-browed Piero della Francesca profile with delicately hollow eyes, expressive of some threat of evil destiny. The feeling in the design of the figure has sweetness and distinction…’ (quoted by Magdalen Evans, Utmost Fidelity, 2009, p.64)

The Queen and the Page was owned by George McCulloch (1848-1907), whose collection of modern art was outstanding. He was an Australian mining engineer whose collection of over 300 paintings included masterpieces by the Pre-Raphaelites Burne-Jones and Millais and the High Victorians Alma-Tadema, Waterhouse, Hacker, Dicksee and Moore but also included a very fine representation of the best of the British Impressionists, Clausen, La Thangue, Gotch, Forbes and Whistler. He owned Stokes’ The Goatherd which was allied in style to the pictures by Bastien Lepage that he also owned. However The Queen and the Page and his other picture by Stokes Primavera, marked a transition between the work by the Pre-Raphaelites and the British Impressionists, capturing the romance of the former and the modern approach to painting of the latter. When McCulloch’s collection was surveyed by a correspondent for the Art Journal in 1897, The Queen and the Page was singled-out for praise; ‘In another picture by Mrs A.S., which hangs in Mr McCulloch’s gallery, we are taken at one step from fact to fiction, from a world of realism to another where fancy reigned. The Page, this second canvas, in no way pretends to record any phase of the life about us. It is purely imaginative, a pretty phantasy treated in the spirit of medieval romance and in feeling and manner akin to the quaint tapestry designed, with the execution of which in bygone centuries great dames occupied their many hours of leisure. This technical character is the outcome of the convention which the artist has adopted in dealing with her subject, a convention based chiefly upon decorative essentials, and disregarding almost entirely the possibilities of realism. The background, against which the figures are relieved, is a landscape indeed, but the trees, the sea, and the distant hills, which are combined to make it up, are treated simply as flat colour surfaces, filling important colour spaces, and by their arrangement providing a pleasant pattern of lines and hues. The figures themselves are in quite consistent with the medieval atmosphere of the picture. In dress, manner and appearance they have litter to connect them with the present day. The pale, wan page with his spare figure and somewhat sorrowful cast of countenance, and the demure princess with her close fitting robe and golden crown, are drawn from a fairy-tale world untroubled by modern thoughts and ways. The artist has made something of a contrast between the two faces, between the expression of hopeless devotion which is worn by the lad, and quiet unconsciousness of the maiden whose train he bears; but the contrast is purely a poetic one, and is not accentuated by the melodramatic touch.’ (A.L.Baldry, ‘The Collection of George McCulloch Esq.’, The Art Journal, 1897, p.72)

We are grateful to Magdalen Evans for her help cataloguing this lot.

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