Wednesday, July 8, 2015

206. A Dark Sketch of Medea

A small Charles Ricketts oil sketch will be auctioned today by Dreweatts at Donnington Priory in a sale of Fine Pictures (lot 160).

Charles Ricketts, 'Medea and her Children' (1903)
The sketch is painted in oil on board and measures 29 to 26 cm. The painting was exhibited in 1918 when The Goupil Gallery sold the collection of the Welsh county court judge William Evans (1861-1918). In the foreword of the Goupil catalogue Charles Aitken described Evans as 'a man who took a real delight in painting, and acquired the works of the younger artists as they painted them, instead of the safe, established dead'. 

The Evans collection seems to have started somewhere before 1900. The judge collected paintings by Wilson Steer and Henry Tonks before they became well-known. Aitken wrote: 'he secured works by Conder, Ricketts, Shannon, John, Orpen, Nicholson, Connard and Lamb in their early days, and most of the men whose work is now being more and more appreciated, found in him a genial patron in those trying days before their battle with an apathetic public was won ...'. (Charles Aitken, 'Preface', in Catalogue of a Collection of Oil Paintings, Watercolours & Drawings formed by the Late William Evans. London, Goupil Gallery, 1918, p.7-8).

The sketch of Medea and her children is rather dark and vague, but, according to Dreweatts's catalogue description, it 'captures the immediacy of the artist's creative process and draws inspiration from the working methods of Rubens and other old masters of the 17th century'. Estimated auction price: £1,200-£1,800.

[Note, 13 July 2015: The oil sketch was sold for £992 (hammer price: £800).]