24th Mar, 2015 10:00

Fine Art

Lot 289

Sold for £35,000

Lot details
Joseph Wright of Derby (1734-1797) A HALF-LENGTH PORTRAIT OF JOSEPH SIKES WEARING A TURQUOISE JACKET WITH LACE RUFF, HIS LEFT HAND TUCKED INTO HIS ORNATE WAISTCOAT, A HAT UNDER HIS LEFT ARM named in gilt top left-hand corner 'Sikes' oil on canvas 74 x 61cms; 29 x 24in; together with: A COMPANION PORTRAIT OF JANE SIKES WEARING PEARLS IN HER HAIR, A LACE COLLAR AND LOW CUT DRESS WITH A FURTHER STRING OF PEARLS DRAPED OVER HER BUST oil on canvas 74 x 61cms; 29 x 24in., in swept gilt frames. PROVENANCE Owned successively by, Joseph Sikes (died 1798) Chauntry House, Newark His son, Reverend Joseph Sikes (died 1857) (unmarried) His niece and beneficiary, Mary Webster, married Robert Wallis Esq. on 12th June 1862 Thence by descent through the Wallis Family. NB This pair of early portraits have never before appeared in the public domain and are documented in ''The Life and Works of Joseph Wright, A.R.A.'' by William Bemrose, published in London 1885, page 52. The following anecdote is recorded: ''The Banqueting, or Dining Room, of the Chauntry, contains a strong, but delicately handled, lengthened portrait of the late Joseph Sikes, Esq., by the celebrated Mr. Wright, of St. Helen's, in Derby, the ancient residence of Mr. Sikes's family....'' ''A remarkable proof of the success of the artist in giving to 'canvas face and figure', was afforded by a favourite little terrier dog of the late Mr. Sikes's unconsciously accompanying him into the apartment at St. Helen's, upon the floor of which, in a very unfinished state, were arranged with many others, this portrait and that of his first lady, the delightful sagacity of that interesting class of animals quickly displaying itself by an attentive survey of the picture, and by the most lively emotions of gratification, to the extend even of actually licking the canvas. The alarm and astonishment, however, so naturally felt by Mr. Sikes from his honest though discourteous intruder, was strongly reproved by Mr. Wright, as the most unprecedented and unflattering respect he could have received; adding, that if the finish of the painting was as perfect as the compliment of the dog, his highest ambition must be exceeded, and if anyone took the trouble to write his life, that anecdote would necessarily form a prominent place''. Jane Sikes (died 1773) is mentioned in Bemrose under sitters at Newark and in Wright's account book for the early 1760's period. Also in the account book is a reference to Wright receiving (through his father) £8 10s from Mr. Sikes, presumably in payment for this portrait. We are grateful to Erika Ingham from the National Portrait Gallery for the account book information. See illustration

Auction: Fine Art, 24th Mar, 2015

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