OPIE, JOHN.  1761-1807.

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Lot 3086
OPIE, JOHN. 1761-1807.

US$ 1,500 - 2,500
£ 1,200 - 2,000
OPIE, JOHN. 1761-1807.
LETTER OFFERING TO PAINT A PICTURE OF MISSIONARIES' ARRIVAL IN TAHITI.
Autograph Letter Signed ("John Opie"), 2 pp recto and verso, 4to, n.p., July 12, 1799, leaf creased and mildly toned, mounting remnant to left margin, address leaf excised.

British painter John Opie, remembered for his historical portraits The Assassination of James I and The Murder at Rizzio, here attempts to solicit business from a clergyman associated with the Society for Propagating the Gospel in Otaheite. In part: "A grand striking and instructive picture might, I think, be made of some one or more of the missionaries teaching and explaining the doctrines of Christianity to their
proselytes in that country, the various characters & expressions of whom (some old, some young, some stupid, some wondering what it can mean, others with light beginning to dawn on their minds & some joyfully convinced of the value & truth of what had been communicated to them) would have a beautiful & interesting [?] done in a masterly style could not fail of exciting strongly the attention of the people of this country & disposing them to patronize and assist the undertaking by every [?] in their power..."
Opie closes with a plea: "I have a great desire to paint a portrait of the boy lately brought over from Otaheite, for myself & should esteem myself indebted to you (if you can do it easily) if you would be so good as to procure me an opportunity for so doing." Opie's request was denied; the painting was accomplished by Smirke.
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