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35

PROPERTY FROM A NEW JERSEY PRIVATE COLLECTION

Sir John Everett Millais, P.R.A.
A DREAM OF DAWN
JUMP TO LOT
35

PROPERTY FROM A NEW JERSEY PRIVATE COLLECTION

Sir John Everett Millais, P.R.A.
A DREAM OF DAWN
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Victorian, Pre-Raphaelite & British Impressionist Art

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London

Sir John Everett Millais, P.R.A.
1829 - 1896
A DREAM OF DAWN
signed with monogram and dated 1868 l.r.
watercolour
24.5 by 17.5cm., 9 by 7in.
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Provenance

Probably bought from the artist by Sir John Fowler Bart. of Thornwood House, Campden Hill, and remaining with him until at least 1896;
Thomas Agnew & Sons, London;
Collection of Barnet Lewis Esq., by 1908;
Private collection, UK;
Bonham’s, 22 January 2014, lot 92, where purchased by the present owner

Exhibited

London, Grosvenor Gallery, Winter Exhibition, 1878-1879, no.825;
London, Guildhall, Loan Exhibition of Water-colour Drawings, 1896;
London, Palace of Fine-Arts, Franco-British Exhibition, May-October 1908, no.472

Literature

The Examiner, 11 Jan 1879;
Pall Mall Gazette, 30 January 1879

Catalogue Note

Millais exhibited a work at the Royal Academy in 1869 entitled A Dream of Dawn  (no. 597), which was presumably an oil version of the present picture which is dated the year earlier. The watercolour depicts a young girl in a lace nightgown leaning against the balustrade of her balcony and awaiting the rising sun. The picture recalls depictions of Shakespeare’s Juliet or the classical Hero, watching for their departed lovers from their balconies. However, her modern nightgown places the subject in a contemporary setting. The pink roses growing against the stonework suggest that the girl’s reverie is amorous, although her expression hints at melancholy - perhaps she is hoping that the new day will bring an absent lover back to her.

This watercolour version was shown at the winter exhibition of the Grosvenor Gallery in 1878-79. The critic for The Examiner described the picture as  'a delightful little work by Mr. Millais' (The Examiner, 11 Jan 1879) and the correspondent for Pall Mall Gazette is equally complimentary: 'A few important works must, however, be touched upon. Mr. Millais's "A Dream at Dawn" (825) is of small size, but a gem of its kind. The artist has seldom created a more beautiful type than the lady in a white flowing dress, leaning over a balcony encircled by blossoms and all kinds of greenery. The expression of the head is full of intense passion, although there is a certain dreamy vagueness in the eyes waiting for the dawn.' ('The Grosvenor Gallery, Second Notice' 30 January 1879')

This watercolour was bought from Millais by his deer-stalking friend John Fowler, a wealthy railway engineer, whose portrait Millais also painted in 1868 and exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1869 (Institute of Civil Engineers). Fowler was one of the great Victorian industrialists. In the 1850s and 1860s he was the leading engineer on the Metropolitan Railway in London, the world’s first underground railway and had been President of the Institute of Civil Engineers between 1865 and 1867. Later in life he was responsible for other major engineering projects, including the Forth Railway Bridge for which he was awarded a Baronetcy in 1890. Following Fowler’s death the watercolour was in the collection of Barnet Lewis whose collection of 115 watercolours by Myles Birkett Foster was offered at Christie’s on 3 March 1930.

Victorian, Pre-Raphaelite & British Impressionist Art

|
London