The Country House sale on September 12 includes an early 19th century ‘history painting’ by George Dawe (1781-1829). The scene from Cymbeline, Shakespeare’s convoluted tale of innocence and jealousy among the royalty of ancient Britain, is estimated at £15,000-20,000.
Paintings of classical and historical subjects such as this were the making of Dawe’s early reputation. A conscientious student at the Royal Academy, collecting Old Masters and attending lectures in anatomy had helped improve his knowledge of the human form. In 1815 he briefly employed a promising young artist named John Constable to paint some of his background work.
We know of two recorded paintings of Cymbeline. A picture by this name, alternatively titled Imogen found in the cave of Belarius, was awarded the top prize of 200 guineas at the British Institution for Promoting the Fine Arts in 1809. It is now in the collection at the Tate.
The 2.04 x 1.06m oil, from a private collection in the UK, is thought to date from the same period and may well be the Scene from Cymbeline for which the British Institution awarded a prize of £50.
Ultimately, however, Dawe’s career would take an atypical path when, in 1819, he travelled with his patron the Duke of Kent painting full and half lengths of European bigwigs and military personnel. Brought to the attention of Alexander I, he moved to St Petersburg where he would paint, for the Winter Palace, the portraits of over 300 Russian generals who had successfully fought back the armies of Napoleon. Pushkin wrote a poem about the ‘First Portrait Painter of the Imperial Court’ titled To Dawe Esq.
If Dawe’s popularity did not endure in England, in Russia he is still held in high regard. Cymbeline is to be included in the forthcoming catalogue raisonne of the artist’s work by Galina Andreeva of the State Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow.
Our Design sale on 4-5 May includes a group of Arts & Crafts items from the estate of the design writer and biographer Fiona MacCarthy OBE (1940-2020). Married to the Sheffield-based silversmith and designer David Mellor (1930-2009), who she first met when conducting an interview in 1967, MacCarthy’s background as a journalist for House and Garden and the Guardian helped to lay the foundations for seminal works on C R Ashbee, the Omega Workshops, William Morris, Eric Gill, and Stanley Spencer.
Sworders Design department is delighted to be offering a selection of some of the Gabbertas Studio’s most iconic designs, some of which are extremely rare versions of designs or prototypes made by the hand of Mark Gabbertas himself | DESIGN WEDNESDAY 5 MAY 2021
Following Covid's cancellation of the Festival in 2020, the charming Georgian market town of Holt in Norfolk is delighted to be resuming its role as host of East Anglia’s celebration of creativity, Holt Festival, this summer, and Sworders couldn't be prouder to be sponsoring not one, but two art prizes this year.