Stanhope Alexander Forbes, RA (British, 1857-1947)
The Quarry Team signed and dated 'Stanhope A Forbes/1894' (lower right) oil on canvas 152.5 x 244 cm. (60 x 96 in.)
Provenance: Purchased directly from the artist by Mrs. S.J.Polglase in 1941, for £175; thence by inheritence to Reginald Symons.
Exhibited: Royal Academy, 1894, no. 461. City of Plymouth Art Gallery and Museum, 1923, no. 1
Literature: Royal Academy Pictures, 1894, pt. 5, p.175; Birch, pp.92-94; Art Journal (Hind), pp. 24-29, ill p.29
The present lot, painted on the road from Penzance to Lands End, was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1894, where it was reputedly damaged by suffragettes. Stanhope Forbes clearly considered the work one of his most important; in a letter to Symons, dated 17th December 1941, Forbes writes:
'I am very much obliged to you for your letter & am greatly pleased to learn that Mrs Warren & Mrs Polglase are interested in my picture "The Quarry Team" which I had the pleasure of showing you recently. I can well understand that in times such as these it requires careful consideration before deciding to acquire important & costly works of art/ & it is the more gratifying that these ladies should at all consider taking such a step. I will therefore ask you to convey my warm thanks to them. In naming the price I mentioned to you I went a considerable way in reducing it as much as possible since a picture of this size is greatly handicapped by its large dimensions but it would be such a satisfaction to me to know that this picture which I value very highly as one of the most important of my career has passed into/hands who would appreciate it & care for it. Will you therefore tell these ladies that I would be willing to reduce the figure by 30% bringing the price which I would accept to £175. I must ask you to consider this as strictly and absolutely confidential for you can well understand I would not like it to be generally know that I am offering it for a sum so much below what my works usually command. But to find a home for it in Cornwall where/ it was painted would please me so greatly that I am happy to make this offer. I may add that I would give me great pleasure to show it to the ladies if they would at any time care to call and see it. I would like to say how much Mrs Forbes and I enjoyed your recent visit and the very cordial interest and appreciation you showed of our work./Sincerely yours/Stanhope A Forbes'
In a letter of condolence to Mrs Forbes, following the artist's death in 1947, the family write:
'As the proud possessors of one of his greatest and most renowned works, which has for years given us much joy, we felt we had, so to speak, a personal link with its creator, who's [sic] brush not only revealed the genius of the painter, but left upon his canvas's [sic] an impression of himself, and his loftiness of soul'.