UP FOR SALE
Sunday 04 June 1995
But Burne-Jones's enchanting letters to Lady Elizabeth's youngest daughter, Katie, survive, filled with lively drawings and anecdotes. Katie herself gave them to the British Museum and they have been published twice, once by Graham Robertson in 1925 and again in 1988 by John Christian as Letters to Katie.
A Burne-Jones portrait of Katie Lewis is the star turn of Sotheby's sale on 7 June. She is shown at the age of eight in 1886, stretched out on a sofa in a velvet dress, reading a book; her pet dog is curled up on her feet. Sotheby's are expecting to get between pounds 500,000 and pounds 700,000 for it. A careful chalk study for the painting is also included, estimated at pounds 12,000-pounds 18,000, and a rough pencil sketch of Katie at about four years old (pounds 600-pounds 800).
Elizabeth Lewis was married to one of the leading solicitors of the day, Sir George Henry Lewis. He extricated the Prince of Wales, later Edward VII, from the Tranby-Croft baccarat scandal (when the prince was subpoenaed as a witness in a libel case), advised Whistler after he was bankrupted by suing the art critic John Ruskin for libel, and helped both Oscar Wilde and his much blackmailed friend, Lord Alfred Douglas. Burne-Jones, when presenting Katie's portrait to her parents, said Lewis was "the terror of the aristocracy of England and knows enough to hang half the Dukes and Duchesses in the Kingdom".
The paintings passed through Katie to her niece, Eliza-beth Wansborough, who died at 98 in March. They have been sent for sale by Mrs Wansborough's daughter, Mrs Miriam James, the Lewises' great-granddaughter.
The Lewises were exceptionally close to Burne-Jones, even spending holidays with him in France. But many leading artists were regular visitors at their majestic town house at 88 Portland Place and country retreat at Walton-on-Thames, including Whistler, Alma-Tadema and Sargent. The latter also painted portraits of all the family.
The Sotheby sale contains a particularly charming picture of Alma-Tadema's two daughters as children. It was painted in 1873 and is expected to fetch pounds 60,000-pounds 90,000. Katie Lewis bought it at a Sotheby auction in 1959. There is also a watercolour sketch of Sir George Lewis in his garden by Jules Bastien-Lepage, a French artist who had a formidable reputation among his contemporaries (estimate pounds 1,500-pounds 2,000). And there is a very pretty pastel sketch of Katie as a child in a feathered bonnet by George Henry Boughton RA (estimate pounds 800- pounds 1,200).
Most of the workss are, however, by Burne-Jones. They include a 4ft panel painting of Girls in a Meadow, probably a sketch for the decoration he made on a piano for his friend George Price Boyce (estimate pounds 15,000-pounds 20,000) and a watercolour study of A Musician, an unearthly girl playing a stringed instrument (pounds 12,000-pounds 18,000).
Game of Thrones
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Hair loss explained: How and why men go bald
- 2 Game of Thrones season 6: Jon Snow theorists believe Ned Stark's son may have a twin sister
- 3 Artist takes LSD, draws herself over different stages of the 9-hour trip to show its effects
- 4 iPhone 6s camera: features to include 4K video camera and flash for selfies
- 5 A pint of water every day is the key to losing weight, scientists say
Game of Thrones season 6: Jon Snow theorists believe Ned Stark's son may have a twin sister
Artist takes LSD, draws herself over different stages of the 9-hour trip to show its effects
Suicide Squad's Margot Robbie: Jared Leto's now more petrifying when out of his Joker make-up
Novel Scarlett Johansson tried to ban, Grégoire Delacourt’s The First Thing You See, to be published in UK
The Girl in the Spider's Web, David Lagercrantz, review: Stieg Larsson's heroes return in a thrilling new intrigue
Dresden riots: Protesters in Germany attack refugee buses shouting 'foreigners out'
France train shooting: US soldiers speak of the moment they stopped gunman and 'beat him until he was unconscious'
Labour leadership: Jeremy Corbyn accused of 'deluding' young supporters with 'claptrap'
'Women only' train carriages: Jeremy Corbyn unveils radical move to tackle public harassment
Black holes are a passage to another universe, says Stephen Hawking
Iain Duncan Smith 'should resign over disability benefit death figures', says Jeremy Corbyn