The bonfire signed 'S Anderson' (lower right); inscribed with title and artist's address on a label attached to the reverse oil on canvas 71 x 92cm (27 15/16 x 36 1/4in).
PROVENANCE: Private collection, UK
Largely self-taught, Sophie Anderson was the daughter of Charles Gengembre, a Parisian architect. After the 1848 revolution the family moved to the United States, settling first in Cincinnati and then Manchester, Pennsylvania.
Sophie married a British artist, Walter Anderson in 1849, and quickly established a reputation as portrait painter and illustrator. She visited England for a period of four years in the late 1850's when she exhibited at the RA and RBA, and counted among her patrons the Pre-Raphaelite collector Thomas Plint.
After a short period back in the US, the Andersons returned to London which became their home until 1896. Sophie continued to exhibit widely in London and as her reputation grew, began to show her work further afield in Liverpool, Dublin, Paris and Glasgow. In 1870, the Andersons moved to Bramley in Surrey, which according to a label on the reverse of the picture, is where A Bonfire was painted. For reasons of Sophie's health the Andersons bought the Villa di Castello in Capri in 1871, and spent most of their time there until the early 1890's, sending works back to the UK for exhibition almost every year.
Children feature in many of Sophie Anderson's works and A Bonfire is a wonderful example. It embodies all the elements that have made her pictures so sought after over the years. A strong sense of colour and texture is combined with an endearing subject matter and a gentle narrative, resulting in a work which is endearing without being over bearing.