Lot 243 (The Autumn Country House Sale, 12th September 2017)

George Dawe RA (1781-1829) CYMBELINE

George Dawe RA (1781-1829)
Signed with monogram(?), oil on canvas
204 x 106cm

The painting is to be included in the forthcoming catalogue raisonné of the artist's work by Galina Andreeva of the State, Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow.

Dawe was christened George after his godfather, the artist George Morland, and was trained as an engraver by his father Philip, who had worked with Hogarth. Accomplished as he was in this discipline, his ambition was, to paint and this led him to enrol in 1794 as a student at the Royal Academy of Arts. He became an associate member in 1809 and an Academician in 1814.

He established a reputation in his early career for historical subjects, which at this time, were still an important measure of an artist's abilities, but his desire both for financial success and for recognition in high society drove him increasingly to portrait painting. The Duke of Kent was prominent among his royal patrons, and took, him on a tour of Europe where he was commissioned to paint portraits of numerous military and diplomatic staff, among them the Duke of Wellington. His work came to the attention of Tsar Alexander of Russia, which resulted in the commissioning of, over 300 military portraits following the successful campaign against Napoleon. Dawe was in St Petersburg from 1822 to 1828, in which year he became First Portrait Painter of the Imperial Court. Although he enjoyed considerable renown in England, during his lifetime, his work remains better-known in Russia and his reputation there more enduring.

He was a conscientious student at the Academy, where he supplemented life drawing classes by attending lectures in anatomy. His knowledge of the, classics was limited, presumably because his general education had been curtailed, but one of his early subject pictures, 'Achilles frantic for the loss of Patroclus', was awarded the gold medal. Two others were exhibited at the Royal Academy,, 'Naomi and her Daughters' in 1804 and 'Andromache imploring Ulysses to spare the life of her son' in 1810; the majority of his subsequent Academy exhibits, until 1818, were portraits. An 1851 publication, 'Library of the Fine Arts', records a, picture, 'Cymbeline' in the following terms: 'The next historical work he undertook (after Naomi) was from a scene in Cymbeline, which he submitted to the British Institution in 1809, and for which he received their highest premium of two hundred, guineas'. This almost certainly refers to the painting now in the collection of the Tate, alternatively titled 'Imogen found in the cave of Belarius', but it is reasonable to conclude that our painting was produced at around the same time in view, of the popularity of Shakespearean subjects and the subsequent direction that Dawe's work took. Also in 1809, a premium of £50 was awarded to Dawe by the British Institution for a Scene from Cymbeline, which was possibly for this picture rather, than the Tate composition.

In 1819 he arrived in Saint Petersburg, 'where he commenced his great and laborious undertaking of the grand National Military Gallery. Nine years were devoted to the completion of this wonderful undertaking, which he at, length accomplished with almost unexampled industry and perseverance'.

At the time of Dawe's funeral, Sir Thomas Lawrence, President of the Royal Academy, said of his fellow artist 'Dawe had done much for English art, he had established its fame, over the whole north of Europe, and connected it with a work which would not soon be forgotten'.

Sold for £15,000

Condition report
Some light surface scratches.
Areas of retouching throughout, main figures not as affected as background.
Two thirds down painting appears to be horizontal fold line, this has been retouched.
Please view additional images,, upon request.