Thursday, August 19, 2010

Charles Compton - A Study in the National Gallery - 1855


Price Realized £4,183

signed and dated 'C. Compton/July 1855' (lower right)
oil on canvas
10 x 12 in. (25.4 x 30.5 cm.)

London, Royal Academy, 1856, no. 294.

The children are looking at a derivative of Pietà with Mourning Angels by the Bolognese Renaissance artist, Francesco Francia, a lunette to the altarpiece in the National Gallery that had been purchased in 1841. Although few biographical details are known about Charles Compton, it is understood he was acquainted with some of the Pre-Raphaelite artists and admired Millais' paintings in particular. There was a growing Victorian conviction that looking at High Art was morally improving and many artists chose to depict public art exhibitions, examples include George Bernard O'Neill's Public Opinion (1863) and Thomas Hall's One Touch of Nature Makes the Whole World Kin (1867). Most notable amongst them was William Powell Frith's A Private View in the Royal Academy, 1881.

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