View full screen - View 1 of Lot 56. Sibyl.
56

Frederic, Lord Leighton, P.R.A., R.W.S

Sibyl

Estimate:

20,000

to
- 30,000 GBP

Frederic, Lord Leighton, P.R.A., R.W.S

Frederic, Lord Leighton, P.R.A., R.W.S

Sibyl

Sibyl

Estimate:

20,000

to
- 30,000 GBP

Lot sold:

25,200

GBP

Frederic, Lord Leighton, P.R.A., R.W.S

1830 - 1896

Sibyl


oil on canvas, in original frame

20 x 12 cm.

The canvas is unlined and the work is in very good condition and ready to hang.


UNDER ULTRAVIOLET LIGHT There are no obvious signs of retouching.


"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."

James Stewart Hodgson (1827-1899);
Agatha, Marchioness of Sligo (1866-1965).

This powerful picture relates closely to Leighton’s Sibyl exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1889 (private collection). Although it was made as a preparatory work for a larger painting, the present picture has the same intensity and drama as the exhibited work. Depicting a heavily-draped female figure, seated and turning with an expression of challenge, Sibyl is one of a number of paintings depicting powerful women that Leighton painted in his later years. These late works demonstrate Leighton’s influence from the work of Michelangelo as he gradually moved away from his previous fascination with Hellenic culture that inspired so much of his earlier work.


Sibyls were considered to be wise women of antiquity, who would often be turned to in times of national or civic unrest. It is generally considered that there were ten Sibyls: Persian, Libyan, Delphic, Cimmerian, Erythreaen, Samian, Hellespontic, Phrygian, Tiburtine and Cumaean. Michelangelo painted five of these in the Sistine Chapel: Delphic, Libyan, Persian, Cumaean and Erythreaen, which ever since they were painted have haunted the imagination of western artists. Leighton’s Sibyl is shown in a shadowed subterranean space, beside a tripod of flames; at her feet are scrolls signifying her wisdom.


Leighton made several visits to the Sistine Chapel, the first being as early as 1840, when he was only nine years of age, and visited Rome with his parents. Leighton would later return to the Sistine Chapel to study more closely the work of Michelangelo. It is certain that the frescos depicting five Sibyls in the Sistine Chapel, undoubtedly inspired Leighton's Sibyl.


Leighton's work of this later period often feature single figures, which echo the Sibyls of the Sistine Chapel. The series of single-figure subjects draws upon themes of melancholy and solitude, and it is often suggested that the reccurring sibyl-like figures in Leighton's later work, have autobiographical significance, with the artist representing himself as a solitary musing figure nearing the end of his life. These works convey the themes of human existence and mortality, rather than narrative subjects.