JOHN BYAM SHAW
"WHEN ALONE SHE SITS WITH HER MUSIC AND BOOKS"
Signed and dated 'BYAM SHAW 99' upper right; also with title in a predella and inscribed 'MAUD', with raised seal containing artist's monogrammed signature on gilded frame with mother of pearl inlay, oil on canvas
13 x 10 in. (33 x 24.4cm)
Frame: 24 1/4 x 17 x 1 1/2 in. (61.6 x 43.2 x 3.8cm)
Private Collection, Iowa.
John Byam Liston Shaw was an important Pre-Raphaelite artist, born in India in 1872 to British parents. At age 15, his work was shown to English painter John Everett Millais, a founder of the Pre-Raphaelite movement and the youngest student to enroll at the Royal Academy Schools, who encouraged Shaw to enter the St. John's Wood Art School in London. Shaw later studied at the Royal Academy Schools, following in Millais' footsteps. There, he was heavily influenced by both Millais and Dante Gabriel Rossetti, a poet and an artist, whose wish for the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, as it was known, was to develop a symbiotic link between poetry and painting. The subjects of many of Shaw's paintings were inspired by Rossetti's poems.
The present painting's title is taken from a verse of a poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson, "Maud," which is found painted at the bottom of the frame: "When alone she sits with her music and books." Elaborately framed, with a mother of pearl border and a copper painted seal with Shaw's initials entwined in a cipher, the painting depicts Maud in a lavish cream gown adorned with flowers, her bell sleeves resembling gossamer wings; behind her, stacked precariously on sofa of deep olive and red, are several large books to which Tennyson refers. Her face, though caught in shadow, shows rosy cheeks and the classical, elegant features so representative of the Pre-Raphaelite style. Her left hand rests on the keys of the harpsichord as she flips through sheet music, while through the window creeping vines frame the rolling landscape beyond, where, Tennyson writes, "Maud has a garden of roses, and lilies fair on a lawn."
Sold for $43,750 (buyer's premium included)