SWINBURNE, ALGERNON CHARLES (1837-1909, poet) AND WATTS-DUNTON, THEODORE (1832-1914, poet, novelist,
Lot 151
SWINBURNE, ALGERNON CHARLES (1837-1909, poet) AND WATTS-DUNTON, THEODORE (1832-1914, poet, novelist, critic and companion of Swinburne) JOINT PORTRAIT BY SIR MAX BEERBOHM (1872-1956),
Sold for £8,400 (US$ 14,118) inc. premium
Auction Details
Lot Details
SWINBURNE, ALGERNON CHARLES (1837-1909, poet) AND WATTS-DUNTON, THEODORE (1832-1914, poet, novelist, critic and companion of Swinburne)
JOINT PORTRAIT BY SIR MAX BEERBOHM (1872-1956),
etching, full-length, Swinburne from the back and Watts-Dunton in profile in front of a book-lined wall, inscribed by Beerbohm in pencil below the plate line '12 copies No.5', titled, signed and dated in the plate 'Max 1921. 2 The Pines', extremely fine impression, 61/2 x 43/4 in (16.5 x 12.1 cm).

Footnotes

  • An extremely scarce example of Max Beerbohm's only known etching. Three copies only were known to Rupert Hart-Davis, this one (No.5) having been in his own possession (Rupert Hart-Davis, A Catalogue of the Caricatures of Max Beerbohm, 1972, no. 1644). There is no impression of it in the National Portrait Gallery.

    The etching refers visually to the subject of one of Beerbohm's most delightful essays, 'No. 2. The Pines', the address of Watts-Dunton at the foot of Putney Hill, in south west London:

    '..The sun had appeared after a grey morning, and it pleasantly flooded this big living-room whose walls were entirely lined with the mellow backs of books...among his treasures, Swinburne was more than ever attractive...An illustrious bibliophile among his books? A birthday child, rather, among his toys. Proudly he explained to me the general system under which the volumes were ranged in this or that division of shelves...' This is followed by Max admitting to not knowing the books Swinburne showed him until, finally, he felt he had to say he did know one. Swinburne was taken aback because he was sure he had the only extant copy. Shamefacedly, Max had to admit that he must have been mistaken and confused the play with another - 'No, I shouted, this I have never read.'

    The essay also describes the two old friends verbally:

    THEODORE WATTS-DUNTON: '...something gnome-like about his swarthiness and chubbiness...with the shaggy hair that fell over the collar of his eternally crumpled frock-coat, the shaggy eye-brows that overhung his bright little brown eyes, the shaggy moustache that hid his small round chin...'

    ALGERNON SWINBURNE: '...Sparse and straggling though the grey hair was that fringed the immense pale dome of his head, and venerably haloed though he was for me by his greatness, there was something - boyish? girlish? childish, rather; something of a beautifully well-bred child...'

    For a portrait of Beerbohm see lot 10.
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