European & British Paintings Day Auction

European & British Paintings Day Auction

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 69. Tea.

A Vision of Arcadia – An Important English Private Collection

George Dunlop Leslie, R.A.


Auction Closed

July 4, 02:11 PM GMT


25,000 - 35,000 GBP

Lot Details


A Vision of Arcadia – An Important English Private Collection

George Dunlop Leslie, R.A.


1835 - 1921


signed G D Leslie lower right

oil on canvas

Unframed: 84 by 61cm., 33 by 24in.

Framed: 99 by 76cm., 39 by 30in.

Sale: Sotheby's, London, 6 June 2001, lot 93

Purchased at the above sale by the present owner

London, Royal Academy, 1894, no. 42

'My aim has always been to paint pictures from the sunny side of English domestic life… the times are so imbued with turmoil and misery, hard work and utilitarianism, that innocence, joy, and beauty seem to be the most fitting subjects to render such powers as I posses useful to my fellow-creatures.' (George Dunlop Leslie, as quoted in Wilfrid Meynell, The Modern School of Art, vol. III, p. 113)

A young woman in early nineteenth century dress, offers hot tea from across a table of white linen. Tea is a simple subject, beautifully painted. The model wears a gown and mop-cap of a style that had been adopted by members of the so-called St John's Wood Clique of painters- of which group Philip Hermogenes Calderon, William Frederick Yeames, George Adolphus Storey, Fred Walker and Marcus Stone, in addition to Leslie himself, were members in the 1870s. Leslie and his fellow Clique member's conscious avoidance of the contemporary made a powerful appeal to the late Victorian sense of nostalgia for an earlier age, which was seen as more aesthetically pleasing and somehow less threatening.

George Dunlop Leslie was the son of Charles Robert Leslie one of the great originators of Victorian genre painting. In this early career G.D. Leslie had been influenced by Pre-Raphaelitism but he later turned to classical-mythological subjects such as Nausicaa and her Maids (shown at the Royal Academy in 1871). In the course of the 1870s he adopted his characteristic aestheticised figurative arrangements- almost always showing women and children in domestic interiors and open-air settings. Leslie's move away from the more portentous subjects towards elegant and light-hearted decorative arrangements was commented on in 1873, when the Art Journal demonstrated a fundamental lack of sympathy of the nascent aesthetic-classical school by complaining that a work entitled The Fountain was 'too good a picture to be subjected to the slight of an insignificant title.' (Art Journal, 1873, p. 167). Tea was painted two decades later when Leslie's style was fully formed and he was successful, respected and fashionable.