Old Master Paintings & Works on Paper Day Auction

Old Master Paintings & Works on Paper Day Auction

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 229. Study for 'The Crochet Worker'.

Property from a Private Collection

William Etty, R.A.

Study for 'The Crochet Worker'

Lot Closed

July 4, 11:07 AM GMT


10,000 - 15,000 GBP

Lot Details


Property from a Private Collection

William Etty, R.A.

York 1787–1849

Study for 'The Crochet Worker'

oil and black chalk on board

unframed: 50.5 x 38.5 cm.; 19⅞ x 15⅛ in.

framed: 71.3 x 58.8 cm.; 28⅛ x 23⅛ in.

Charles Birch, Metchley Abbey, Harborne;

By whom sold, London, Messrs. Foster and Son, 27 February 1859, lot 18;

Anonymous sale, London, Christie's, 30 June 2010, lot 19;

Where acquired by the present owner.

D. Farr, William Etty, London 1958, p. 172, under no. 194.

This is one of several recorded studies or versions of this subject produced by William Etty.1 All of these pictures relate to a painting titled The Crochet Worker, which the artist exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1849, no. 84. Alexander Gilchrist noted that the 1849 exhibit ‘was painted for Mr. Harper’;2 it would thus seem to be the work sold from Edward Harper’s collection at Christie’s on 16 April 1853, lot 75, which was moreover described in the sale catalogue as the RA picture.3 At present, this finished rendition of the subject appears to be untraced. Although one of the two versions today at York Art Gallery is a contender for that picture,4 on account of its canvas support and landscape background, that work's dimensions do not accord with those listed in the Christie's catalogue of 1853.

The sitter for The Crochet Worker was Etty’s great-niece, Mary Ann Purdon (b. 1832). Elizabeth, Mary Ann’s aunt, was Etty’s housekeeper and companion at 14 Buckingham Street, off the Strand, which was for many years the artist’s London home and studio. It was probably there, as implied by Gilchrist,5 that the young Mary Ann posed for the picture.

We are grateful to Richard Green at the University of York for his help in cataloguing this lot.

1 The known versions are discussed in Farr 1958, pp. 171–72, under no. 194.

2 A. Gilchrist, Life of William Etty, R.A., London 1855, vol. II, p. 265.

3 Farr 1958, under no. 194. That picture was bought by Charles Cope and subsequently sold from his collection at Christie’s on 8 June 1872, lot 22.

4 Object no. YORAG: 106; oil on panel, 67.3 x 50.8 cm.; Study for The Crochet-Worker (Mary Ann Purdon) | York Museums Trust; Object no.: YORAG: 2008.5; oil on canvas, 68 x 52 cm.; The Crochet-Worker (Mary Ann Purdon) | York Museums Trust.

5 Gilchrist 1855, vol. II, p. 266.