Wednesday, July 3, 2013

101. The Wise and Foolish Virgins

Christie's upcoming sale no. 1128, 'Victorian & British Impressionist Art', is scheduled for Thursday 11 July 2013 at 8 King Street, London. Included in this sale is a painting by Charles Ricketts, 'The Wise and Foolish Virgins' (1914). 

The oil painting is signed with Ricketts's monogram in the lower left, and it is offered in its original frame (87.7 x 118 cm). The painting was exhibited at the Grosvenor Gallery in 1914, and on 25 April Ricketts wrote in his diary that he had received news of its sale: 'I feel quite elated'. The painting was bought by Lady Cowdray. Apparently, she was discussing its acquisition when representatives of the Chantrey Bequest arrived, 'and fearing the picture might be purchased by them she bought it on the spot'. Had she not bought the picture, it would perhaps have ended up in Tate Britain. Ricketts was enchanted by Lady Cowdray's  impulsivity. Lady Cowdray was born Annie Cass. In 1881 she married the first Viscount Cowdray, and as a result she was styled as Baroness Cowdray in 1910. Lord Cowdray died in 1927; Annie Lady Cowdray's death was announced in April 1932. Further provenance of the painting is given as: 'Anonymous sale; Sotheby's, London, 20 March 1968, lot 105.' 

Charles Ricketts, 'The Wise and Foolish Virgins' (1914)
The painting (lot 50) is sold on behalf of the Eric Holder Will Trust. Holder, who died in 2007 (the introduction to the catalogue includes some personal recollections of him) was one of the founders of Abbott and Holder, picture and print dealers in London. However, the paintings that are now sold by Christie's are not from the firm's stock, but were part of his personal collection. The selection also contains works by Edward Burne-Jones and Simeon Solomon. 

The estimate for 'The Wise and Foolish Virgins', a subject that was treated often by both Ricketts and Shannon, is £30,000 – £50,000 (or $47,010 - $78,350).

Note (14 July 2013): the painting remained unsold at auction.
Second note (27 October 2013): Christie's website mentions a sale price of £25,000.