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Samuel Shelley (1750-1808) - 4 drawings including Group Portraits & 4 Graces
  • Samuel Shelley (1750-1808) - 4 drawings including Group Portraits & 4 Graces

    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 (note, these do 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 four drawings on two seperate sheets. They are numbered 110 and 111 with both having un-numbered drawings verso.


    No. 110 depicts four ladies in a oval with an inscription that it appears to say '... 4 Graces'. The figure in the middles seems to be the lead character and has most of her body visible. Verso there is a drawing of female figure wearing a veil with her hands clasped deeply in prayer. This may be a Saint. Behind the character is another figure with a melancholic expression.


    No. 111 is a group portrait for a genre scene by Shelley. It may be a classical theme with the gentleman on the right haveing a large beard and having a building with colonnades behind him which is perhaps Greek. The figures on the appear some what downcast. Verso there is a pen and ink drawing of woman staring to her left. Shelley has crossed out a second figure. It's an interesting insight to the artist's thought process.


    Medium: pencil on paper, No. 110 measures 7.3 x 7.6cm and No. 111 measures 10.1 x 8cm (oval sheet). Note the sheets are loose and not mounted or framed.


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


    Condition report: please see photographs, each sheet has some time staining. No. 110 and No. 111 have some paper stuck to the corners verso from a previous mounting.


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

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