Portrait of May Sartoris signed with monogram, inscribed and dated 'May/1854' (centre left) pencil 19 x 16.5cm (7 1/2 x 6 1/2in).
PROVENANCE: May Sartoris by descent to her daughter Miss Catherine Evans Gordon, together with a drawing by Leighton of May's brother Algernon (dated 1855) by descent to her niece, the actress Judith Furse Sale, Sotheby's London, 19 October 1967, lot 180 with Thos. Agnew & Sons Ltd, London Bolton Museum and Art Gallery, acquired 1977
EXHIBITED: Bolton Museum & Art Gallery, The Drawing Room August 2004-January 2005
May Sartoris, the daughter of one of Leighton's closest female friends, Adelaide Sartoris, whom he met soon after he had settled in Rome, was only nine years old when the young painter produced this wistful likeness of her. Adelaide, one of the famous Kemble family was a successful opera singer and by her marriage to the banker Edward Sartoris, had three children, Greville, Mary Theodosia (May) and Algernon. In the winter of 1854, Leighton began a half-length portrait of May but his most famous portrait of her is the one painted in 1860 when he had returned to England (Kimbell Art Museum, Forth Worth).