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Samuel Shelley (1750-1808) - 5 Drawings including Figure studies
  • Samuel Shelley (1750-1808) - 5 Drawings including Figure studies

    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 five drawings on five seperate sheets. They are numbered 69, 405, 406, 408 and 480(?).


    No. 69 is an intricate study of a pair of hands in prayer. Perhaps this was a study for a depiction of a Saint. Shelley is known to have done pictures of St Anthony as we have a study for this Saint also for sale.


    No. 405 is a pen and ink drawing on what appears to be thinner paper than the other works we have for sale. Shelley has drawn a lady holding her dress. No. 406 is a pencil drawing of a cherub looking behind their back. No. 408 is a group portrait with the central figure having her hands clasped possibly in prayer. There is a second inscription at the bottom in pencil saying '427'. Perhaps this is the drawing it relates to. Lastly no. 480 (or possibly 400) is difficult to interpret. It could depict a face with the nose being on the left. Another possibility is that it is a small landscape study.


    Medium: pencil and pen and ink on paper, No. 69 measures 3.7 x 6.1cm, No. 405 measures 9 x 3.8cm, No. 406 measures 3.6 x 5.4cm, No. 408 measures and No. 480 (possibly 400) measures 3 x 4.3cm. 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. 405 is quite creased. No. 406 has been cut diagnoally on the left hand-side.


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

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