Lot 106

A sheet of figure studies for “The Visible Madonna” & “Dangerous Colleagues” from Leighton’s illustrations for George Eliot’s “Romola”
Black and white chalk on blue paper 
20 x 28 cm (8 x 11 in) sheet size partially obscured by the hinged mount

Provenance: Christopher Fry and thence by descent

The present drawing is part of a series of 25 drawings and fourteen decorated initials Leighton executed for George Eliot’s Romola: a historical novel set in Florence  in the fifteenth century. It was first published between 1862-3 in a series of fourteen parts in the Cornhill Magazine. Leighton had lived in Florence and was therefore the perfect choice for Eliot to illustrate his novel. Initially Eliot disapproved of Leighton’s designs and relations between the two were strained. However they were eventually reconciled, and Leighton’s drawings were acknowledged to have contributed to the edition’s commercial success and the surge in popularity of illustration. The complete work can be seen in: Russell Barrington, The life, letters and work of Frederick Leighton, London, 1906, plate 62.18.

Estimate: £2,000-£3,000