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Samuel Shelley (1750-1808) -  3 drawings including Abelard & Eloisa
  • Samuel Shelley (1750-1808) - 3 drawings including Abelard & Eloisa

    We are delighted to have for sale a collection of over 60 drawings by Samuel Shelley (1750-1808). It is rare to have such a large collection by the artist and many are sketches and studies for some of Shelley's important works. We are selling them individually and some in groups.


    The portfolio they come from is one of a few volumes of drawings by the artist, seven of which are held at the Victoria and Albert Museum, and various other drawings are dispersed across the collections of the British Museum, the Royal Academy, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Yale Center for British Art, and the Wichita Museum. They all are numbered in the same fashion as our drawings which helps to show these are portfolio works by Shelley.


    Our set comes from a collection that has the original front and backboard for the portfolio (please note, this does not come with the listing) with the following description of the contents:


    'Shelley (Samuel) 1750-1808, Artists Sketch Book, A Collection of 241 Studies in Pen and Bistro, Pencil and Crayon &c., consisting of Illustrations to the Poets, including Milton, Prior, Shakespeare, Wharton's Odes to Fancy, Don Quixote, Pegasus, between Tragedy and Comedy, Aldysus and Antigone, Lady Macbeth, Ophelia, Henry and Emma, Cupid and Psyche, Book illustrations, Portraits of Ladies &c., the whole mounted in a an old scrap book on dark grey paper, 4to, hf. bnd. (1 cover loose).'


    Our set contains landscape and architectural studies as well as sketches for portraits, subject pictures and genre scenes. Landscape and architectural studies, a rarity in Shelley’s oeuvre (with the only other example – an ink and watercolour drawing – at the Met), are the subject of at least seven drawings in the portfolio including one titled ‘Picturesque Cottage, St Margarets Bay, Dover’.


    In addition, there are a number of studies linked to Shelley’s miniatures exhibited at the Royal Academy, as well as his other drawings in various collections.


    This listing is for 3 drawings. Two are drawn verso and the other recto on the same sheet of paper. The first drawing is numbered 24 and the drawing on the reverse is not numbered. Drawing 24 most likely is a study for Shelley's composition for a miniature that depicts a lady being led to a funeral monument. The miniature depicts Cupid behind a tree and a lady being led to a funeral monument, lit by a torch in the foreground ( Our drawing is likely to be a study for the lady in the Bonhams work. It has an inscription which is difficult to decipher but is close to 'Whilocke'


    The upper drawing on the reverse links to Shelley's picture of Eloisa and Abelard that was exhibited at the RA in 1783 (see engraving This is taken from Alexander Pope's verse epistle that was published in 1717. The drawing of two characters at the bottom of this sheet could be linked to Pope's epistle or perhaps are another study by Shelley for another genre scene.


    Medium: pencil and pen and ink on paper, 16.9 x 14.3cm (sheet size). Note the sheet is loose and not mounted or framed.


    Provenance: Samuel Shelley's Sketchbook; Private Collection, U.K.


    Condition report: please see photographs.


    We would like to thank Pola Durajska for her help in cataloguing our works by Shelley.

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