Sir John Lavery RA RSA RHA (Irish, 1856-1941) The bay of Tunis. Morning 32 1/4 x 24in (82 x 61cm)

This lot has been removed from the website, please contact customer services for more information

Lot 89
Sir John Lavery RA RSA RHA
(Irish, 1856-1941)
The bay of Tunis. Morning 32 1/4 x 24in (82 x 61cm)

Sold for US$ 80,000 inc. premium
PROPERTY FROM A DISTINGUISHED GENTLEMAN, VIRGINIA
Sir John Lavery RA RSA RHA (Irish, 1856-1941)
The bay of Tunis. Morning
signed 'J. Lavery' (lower left); signed, titled and dated '1919' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
32 1/4 x 24in (82 x 61cm)

Footnotes

  • Provenance
    with Arthur Ackermann & Peter Johnson, Ltd., London, where purchased by the present owner in 2009.

    In 1918, surveying Sir John Lavery's exploits as an Official War Artist for the Royal Navy, Robert Ross wrote:

    He does not tell beautiful scenic fibs about picturesque places in the manner of the great Turner. He is no mere topographer after the tradition of too many English painters; nor does he synthesize the configuration of natural form in a formula of his own; nor does he ignore the forms altogether as Whistler did. He absorbs and conveys to the spectator the spirit and the colour of a place ...(R. Ross and C.E. Montague, British Artists at the Front: Sir John Lavery, 1918, pub. Country Life, n.p.)

    Lavery's sense of place was well-honed. For all his admiration for Whistler, he was an instinctive composer on the motif, firm in the belief that an artist should be able to paint any subject in any conditions. In recent years he had painted the Grand Fleet massing off Scapa Flow, had worked in cramped naval vessels, munitions factories and aerodromes, and even taken his painting kit over the freezing North Sea in the 'gondola' of an airship. It comes as no surprise to discover that after the Armistice, when invited by their friend, Rodolphe d'Erlanger, to stay at the Moorish palace of Dar Ennejma Ezzahra, at Sidi bou Said overlooking the Bay of Tunis, the Laverys were keen to accept (Kenneth McConkey, John Lavery, A Painter and his World, 2010, Atelier Books, p. 145).

    It is likely that the offer came as an expression of gratitude for Lavery's and Winston Churchill's support to the d'Erlanger brothers who, during the Great War, risked internment as enemy aliens. Lavery had already painted an interior of the fashionable d'Erlanger villa, known as Falconwood, on Shooter's Hill, as well as portraits of the brothers. Having been resident in Britain for over twenty years, they were highly respected as international bankers. Rodolphe, like Churchill, was a keen amateur painter who sought Lavery's advice, although he is now primarily remembered for his restoration of the picturesque hilltop village with its spectacular views of the Bay of Tunis. Dar Ennejma Ezzahra provided the ideal setting for painting forays and for his scholarly interests in Arab culture and ethnomusicology and it remains to this day, a centre for the study of Arab music.

    Arriving in Sidi bou Said, Lavery's objective, he later claimed, was to find a beautiful Arab model (John Lavery, The Life of a Painter, 1940, Cassell, p. 104). He was however captivated by the still cerulean seascape fringed by the twin peaks of Mount Bou Kornine and by the dazzling white buildings of the town. Local legend has it that the distant peaks are petrified pilgrims returning from Mecca, transfixed by the paradise that lay before them. Immediately, the artist, standing on a high vantage point, embarked upon a series of majestic Whistlerian views of the bay observed in the morning and evening light, of which the present example is the most striking. In compositional format it instinctively recalls Whistler's Variations in Violet and Green, 1871 (Musée d'Orsay). But where Whistler might ignore forms and clothe the scene in mist, the mountain profiles are recognizable in Lavery – and at his feet a winding road takes the eye down to the tiny port of Hammam-Lif. As Ross so charmingly put it, 'He does not tell beautiful scenic fibs about picturesque places'.

    We are grateful to Professor Kenneth McConkey for his assistance in cataloguing this lot.
Contacts
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 Arms & Armor, Coins and Medals, Motor Cars, Motorcycles, Wine & Whisky

27.5% on the first $3,000 of the hammer price;
25% of the hammer price of amounts in excess of $3,000 up to and including $400,000;
20% of the hammer price of amounts in excess of $400,000 up to and including $4,000,000;
and 13.9% of the hammer price of any amounts in excess of $4,000,000.

Payment Notices

Payment for purchases may be made in or by (a) cash, (b) cashier's check or money order, (c) personal check with approved credit drawn on a U.S. bank, (d) wire transfer or other immediate bank transfer, or (e) Visa, MasterCard, American Express or Discover credit, charge or debit card. Please note that the amount of cash notes and cash equivalents that can be accepted from a given purchaser may be limited.

Shipping Notices

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