George William Joy (British 1844-1925) The First Union Jack 178 x 142 cm. (70 x 56in.)
Lot 72*
George William Joy (British 1844-1925) The First Union Jack 178 x 142 cm. (70 x 56in.)
Sold for £54,970 (US$ 92,394) inc. premium
Auction Details
Lot Details
George William Joy (British 1844-1925)
The First Union Jack
signed and dated 'George Joy/1891' (lower left), inscribed on old label on reverse 'Salon du 1903/La faiseuse du Drapeau/George William Joy/The Red Lodge/51 Palace Court/Paddington/Londres', oil on canvas
178 x 142 cm. (70 x 56in.)


  • Exhibited:
    London, Royal Academy of Arts, 1892, No. 966.
    Paris Salon, 1903.
    Paris Exposition, 1901. (Gold Medal).

    Provenance: Collection of A. Chevallier, esq. (Witt Library)

    George William Joy is almost solely known for one picture, his Royal Academy exhibit of 1895 'The Bayswater 'bus' (no. 524), now in the collection of the London Museum (inv. 29. 166) and therefore this is a rare example of his work to come to auction. He studied at South Kensington and the Royal Academy Schools before training in Paris under the direction of Jalabert, a pupil of Paul Delaroche. He exhibited two pictures at the Royal Academy in 1892, 'The First Union Jack', (no.966), and The King's Drum Shall Never be beaten for Rebels, 1798 (no.105, now Russell Cotes Museum, Bournemouth).
    A preliminary sketch for our painting, drawn in black crayon and heightened with white (Witt Library), shows how Joy had first intended to dress the figures in mid-eighteenth-century wear. The present painting shows the artist settling for a late-eighteenth /early nineteenth century costume and head-dress whilst maintaining his original idea for the pose of the two figures.
    'The First Union Jack' combines the elements of patriotic and naval duty with that of romanticism. These are shared by the young couple, who, quietly seated side by side, pronounce in soft whispers and lowered eyelids their commitment to official duties as well as to those of the heart. The Union flag being sewn is likely destined for the officer's ship, where it will fly on the jackstaff, the short flagpole fixed upright at the end of the bowsprit on a sailing ship-of-war.
    On 1st.January 1801, when Ireland entered the Union of Great Britain, the red cross of St.Patrick was added to the British flag originally designed in 1606 when Scotland (cross of St. Andrew) and England (cross of St. George) were united under a common monarch and unchanged after the more formal Act of Union with Scotland in 1707. In nautical parlance, when the national flag is flown from the jackstaff, normally while the vessel is at anchor, the flag itself is known as the jack. Hence, the derivation of the common - though vexillogically incorrect - expression 'Union Jack' when referring to Great Britain's distinctive national colours.
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