Tuesday 27 February 2024

Lot 314

Robert Walker Macbeth, RA ROI RWS, Scottish 1848-1910-  Far from the Madding Crowd;  oil on...

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Lot 314

Robert Walker Macbeth, RA ROI RWS, 
Scottish 1848-1910- 
Far from the Madding Crowd; 
oil on...

Price Realised: £9,184

Estimate: £1,500 - £2,500

Price realised is hammer price plus fees (31.2% Buyers Premium inclusive of VAT).

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Lot 314


Robert Walker Macbeth, RA ROI RWS, 
Scottish 1848-1910- 

Far from the Madding Crowd; 

oil on canvas, signed and dated 'R. M. / 1883' (lower right), 98.1 x 55.2 cm. 

Private Collection, UK. 

London, Grosvenor Gallery, 1884, no. 214. 

Robert Walker Macbeth may have received his early training in the Glasgow studio of his father, the Scottish portrait painter Norman Macbeth, before relocating to London in 1870, where he continued his studies. He would spend much of his career in London, exhibiting at the Royal Academy, Grosvenor and New Galleries, and at the Old Watercolour Society. 

The picture presented here was exhibited at the Grosvenor Gallery in 1884, with critics commenting on how the lady’s “suggestive air of retrospection”, along with her costume and accessories drew attention and interest to the picture. 

Macbeth was known for his romantic pastoral style of painting, which James Caw, historian of Scottish art, likened to the literary works of Thomas Hardy. It is possible that this present picture draws inspiration from Hardy’s narratives, as its title matches that of the author’s 1874 novel Far from the Madding Crowd. Macbeth’s picture shows a young blonde woman, waiting at the side of a road, gazing wistfully into the distance, warming her hands in a muff. She appears to be pregnant. It is possible that this is a depiction of the character of Fanny Robin, servant to protagonist Bathsheba Everdene, who finds herself entangled in a love affair with Bathsheba’s husband, Sergeant Frank Troy. In the novel, Fanny becomes pregnant with Troy’s child and meets her untimely demise whilst giving birth in a poor house. It is a lock of blonde hair in Troy’s watch that alerts Bathsheba to the true nature of Troy’s relationship with Fanny. This picture could potentially capture Fanny prior to giving birth in secrecy, with the discarded flowers on the nearby bench symbolising her abandonment by Troy and foreshadowing her impending demise. 

A photograph held in the collection of the Royal Academy shows Macbeth in his studio in London, with this picture in the foreground, on an easel [05/4691]. 

Buyer's Premium

The buyer shall pay the hammer price together with a premium thereon of 26% up to £20,000 (31.2% inclusive of VAT), 25% from £20,001 - £500,000 (30% inclusive of VAT), 20% from £500,001 thereafter (24% inclusive of VAT). The premium price is subject to VAT at the standard rate.

VAT is not charged on the hammer price unless it is stated that there is 'VAT applicable on the hammer price at the end of the description. Buyer's premium is subject to VAT.

Qualifying living artists and the descendants of artists deceased within the last 70 years are entitled to receive a re-sale royalty each time their work is bought through an auction house or art market professional.

It applies to lots with hammer value over €1,000 as follows:
0 to €50,000 - 4%, €50,000.01 to €200,000 - 3%
€200,000.01 to €350,000 - 1%,
€350,000.01 to €500,000 - 0.5%
Exceeding €500,000 - 0.25%
ARR is capped at €12,500

Please note ARR is calculated in euros. Auctioneers will apply current exchange rates.

Export of goods

Buyers intending to export goods should ascertain whether an export licence is required before bidding. Export licences are issued by Arts Council England and application forms can be obtained from its Export Licensing Unit. Details can be found on the ACE website www.artscouncil.org.uk or by phoning ACE on 020 7973 5188. The need for import licences varies from country to country and you should acquaint yourself with all relevant local requirements and provisions before bidding. The refusal of any such licences shall not permit the cancelling of any sale nor allow any delay in making full payment for the lot.

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