JOHN BRETT, A.R.A.
PORTRAIT OF ARTHUR BRETT
titled, signed and dated l.l.: Portrait of Arthur/ John Brett/ March 1859; bears an inscription on the reverse; Lt Colonel Arthur Brett as a young man Queens Bay... painted by his brother John Brett ARA
oil on canvas
49 by 41cm., 19 by 16in.
The canvas has not been lined
There is craquelure throughout the work, notably to the sitter's face and shirt. A few scattered specks of surface dirt and some rubbing and abrasian to the surafce edges. Otheriwse work appears to be in fair condition.
UV light inspection reveals areas of retouching to the figure's face, notably his right cheek and chin. Some retouching to the figure's shirt and jacket. Some retouching around the figure's hair. Some spots of retouching to the framing edges and the background.
Held in a plain gold frame.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.
NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF BUSINESS PRINTED IN THE SALE CATALOGUE."
By descent through the artist’s family
Birmingham, Barber Institute of Fine Arts, London, The Fine Art Society and Cambridge, Fitzwilliam Museum, Objects of Affection - Pre-Raphaelite Portraits by John Brett, 2010, no.2
Christiana Payne and Charles Brett, Objects of Affection - Pre-Raphaelite Portraits by John Brett, exh.cat, 2010, p.18-19,44, illustrated p.45;
Christiana Payne and Charles Brett, John Brett Pre-Raphaelite Landscape Painter, Yale, 2010, p.205, no.306
'I long to see him a real knight seeking adventures the other side of the world, to see all his dreams realized: I would think it enough pleasure for a life... to help the bringing about of them and eyes to see it.' (John Brett's diary, 25 December 1858, p.64, quoted in Christiana Payne and Charles Brett, Objects of Affection - Pre-Raphaelite Portraits by John Brett, 2010, p.44)
This beautiful portrait was painted by Brett as a record of fraternal affection in the late winter or early spring of 1859. Arthur Brett (1838-1898) shared lodgings with his brother in London between 1853 and 1854 when he was a student of music and trying to carve a career as a pianist. On Christmas Day 1858 John Brett wrote 'the sound of his exquisite and wonderful music is just the most melancholy thing in the hemisphere to us now' which referred to Arthur's decision to enter the army. It has been suggested by Christiana Payne that Brett's choice of background was very deliberate '... a piece of fabric decorated with lions passant guardant, an allusion to the Royal Arms of England, suggests that he had in mind the heroic deeds and chivalrous nature of Arthur's namesake, King Arthur, recently celebrated in Tennyson's Idylls of the King'. (ibid Payne and Brett, p.44)
The following information was provided by Charles Brett to whom we are very grateful;
In the autumn of 1858 Arthur Brett visited his brother John, then at work on his iconic view of the Val d'Aosta (Private collection) at the Chateau de St Pierre. Brett Sketchbook 5 (National Maritime Museum) contains two very detailed pencil drawings of Arthur, dated Oct 22 and 26 1858. In these he is depicted in a similar pose and identical clothes to those he is wearing in the oil portrait, indicating that they provided the source for the later work.