Horace Hone, ARA (Irish, circa 1756-1825) Sarah Siddons (1755–1831), wearing light brown dress with darker trimming at the cuff, dark brown sash, white fichu, wide brimmed hat with lavender ribbon tied in a knot just below her fichu, she props her face up against her right hand, her elbow resting on the table besides her
Lot 101Y
Horace Hone, ARA
(Irish, circa 1756-1825)
Sarah Siddons (1755–1831), wearing light brown dress with darker trimming at the cuff, dark brown sash, white fichu, wide brimmed hat with lavender ribbon tied in a knot just below her fichu, she props her face up against her right hand, her elbow resting on the table besides her
Sold for £12,600 (US$ 19,716) inc. premium

Lot Details
Horace Hone, ARA (Irish, circa 1756-1825)
Sarah Siddons (1755–1831), wearing light brown dress with darker trimming at the cuff, dark brown sash, white fichu, wide brimmed hat with lavender ribbon tied in a knot just below her fichu, she props her face up against her right hand, her elbow resting on the table besides her.
Signed on the obverse and dated HH/ 1785, gilt-mounted rectangular wood frame.
Oval, 75mm (2 15/16in) high
Provenance: Chateau de Wargemont

Footnotes

  • The present lot can be compared with another portrait by Hone of the previous year, which resides in the National Gallery of Ireland. Painted during Siddons' second visit to Dublin, it is one of the earliest known portraits of the tragic actress and one of the most recognisable, having subsequently been engraved by Francesco Bartolozzi.

    By this period, there was a growing demand for images of the celebrities of the day and the theatre proved a good source of commissions for miniaturists. Siddons' image has been immortalised by the leading portraitists of the day, including Thomas Gainsborough, who also painted her seated and in semi-profile c. 1783-85 (NGL), Joshua Reynolds as The Tragic Muse in 1784 (Huntington Art Gallery, San Marino), Gilbert Stuart c.1785 and John Downman in 1787 (both in the NPGL).

    Like Gainsborough, Hone has chosen to depict Siddons in semi-profile with a thoughtful gaze in both the NGI version and the present lot. Both miniatures exemplify Hone's mature style of painting. He's executed long sweeping brushstrokes and scored darker areas, such as the sitter's hair, to reveal the ivory support beneath, creating depth and texture, whilst in contrast, he's used little paint on her flesh and the white areas of her dress, giving her skin and fichu a general luminosity that remains faithful to her legendary ageless beauty.

    Hone painted several other portraits of Siddons in both watercolour and enamel before having them engraved. Two further versions on ivory are known and like the NGI example, they are both dated 1784. One resides in the collection of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-Upon-Avon. The other depicts the actress turned in the opposite direction and was last recorded in a private collection in 1934.

    An enamel portrait, signed and dated 1786, depicting Siddons wearing a hat, is also known and believed to be in private hands. It is perhaps based to a lesser or greater degree on the present lot. A later enamel by Hone, which was based on the 1784 portrait on ivory in the National Gallery of Ireland was exhibited at the RA in 1822, stipple engraved by G.F. Phillips (active 1815-1832) and published in London three years later.

    Sarah, the eldest daughter of Roger Kemble, an actor-manager, married in 1773, William Siddons, an actor. Her family life was less than fortunate; she gave birth to seven children but outlived five of them, and her marriage became strained and ended in an informal separation.

    In 1774, Siddons' performance as Belvidera in Thomas Otway's 'Venice Preserved' brought her to the attention of David Garrick who engaged her to appear at Drury Lane. However, her first appearances were not well received and she was let go by the manager of Drury Lane. From 1777, she worked in provincial companies, gradually building up a reputation, and her next Drury Lane appearance, on 10 October 1782, could not have been more different. She was an immediate sensation playing the title role in Garrick's adaptation of a play by Thomas Southerne, 'Isabella', or, 'The Fatal Marriage'. It was the beginning of twenty years in which she was the undisputed queen of Drury Lane. Her celebrity status has been called "mythical" and "monumental," and by the mid 1780s Siddons was established as a cultural icon.

    In 1802 she left Drury Lane and subsequently appeared at Covent Garden. It was there, on 29 June 1812, that she made her last appearance, playing her most famous role, Lady Macbeth. The audience refused to allow the play to continue after the end of the sleepwalking scene. Eventually, after tumultuous applause from the pit, the curtain reopened and Siddons was discovered sitting in her own clothes and character - whereupon she made an emotional farewell speech to the audience lasting eight minutes.
Auction information

This auction is now finished. If you are interested in consigning in future auctions, please contact the specialist department. If you have queries about lots purchased in this auction, please contact customer services.

Buyers' Obligations

ALL BIDDERS MUST AGREE THAT THEY HAVE READ AND UNDERSTOOD BONHAMS' CONDITIONS OF SALE AND AGREE TO BE BOUND BY THEM, AND AGREE TO PAY THE BUYER'S PREMIUM AND ANY OTHER CHARGES MENTIONED IN THE NOTICE TO BIDDERS. THIS AFFECTS THE BIDDERS LEGAL RIGHTS.

If you have any complaints or questions about the Conditions of Sale, please contact your nearest customer services team.

Buyers' Premium and Charges

For all Sales categories excluding Wine, Coins & Medals and Motor Cars and Motorcycles:

Buyer's Premium Rates
25% on the first £50,000 of the Hammer Price
20% from £50,001 to £1,000,000 the Hammer Price
12% from £1,000,001 of the Hammer Price

VAT at the current rate of 20% will be added to the Buyer's Premium and charges excluding Artists Resale Right.

Payment Notices

Payment in advance: by cash, check with banker's card, credit card, bank draft or traveler's cheque.

Payment at collection: by credit or debit card.

Credit card charges: a surcharge of 2% is applicable when using Mastercard, Visa and overseas debit cards.

Shipping Notices

For information and estimates on domestic and international shipping as well as export licenses please contact Bonhams Shipping Department.

Lot symbols
Y CITES

Subject to CITES regulations when exporting items outside of the EU, see clause 13.

Contacts
  1. Jennifer Tonkin
    Specialist - Portrait Miniatures
    Bonhams
    Work
    Montpelier Street
    London, United Kingdom SW7 1HH
    Work +44 20 7393 3976
    FaxFax: +44 20 7393 3863
Similar Items