Pickford Robert Waller, Reynolds's Age of Innocence - 1870s watercolour painting


An original 1870s watercolour painting, Pickford Robert Waller Reynolds's Age of Innocence.

This touching portrait is after Sir Joshua Reynolds's painting 'The Age of Innocence', one of Reynolds's best known works. Here the portrait possibly incorporates Pickford Waller's own daughter, Sybil Waller, who frequently sat for artists, including Charles Shannon and Maurice Greiffenhagen.

This picture is one of a group of female portraits by Pickford Waller that we have for sale, which show fascinating connections with painter James Abbot McNeill Whistler and his depictions of women at this time. Waller was an early patron of Whistler and became an avid collector of Whistleriana. This collection includes portraits by Waller of Whistler’s lover and muse Maud Franklin, as well as various paintings of women in Whistlerian pose - employing devices such as sweeping folds of drapery, sinuous rear profile views and compositions with mantelpiece, Chinese vases and Japanese fans. There is also strong influence of the Pre-Raphaelite depiction of women in his work, and these pictures represent the fascinating cross-over of artistic groups and influences working towards the end of the 19th century: indeed Whistler’s women have been described as ‘Pre-Raphaelite ladies who have forsaken the medieval world for the Oriental’.

In good condition for its age. The picture may have minor imperfections, such as slight marks, toning, foxing, creasing or pinholes, commensurate with age. Please see photos for detail. There are historic adhesive marks to the verso, from previous mounting.
15.2cm x 10.9cm.

This picture is one of a remarkable collection of works we have for sale by Pickford Robert Waller (1849-1930) which show his great versatility as an artist. Waller produced floral designs for wallpaper and fabrics, but he is best known as a prolific designer of books and bookplates: he produced book designs for authors including Hans Christian Andersen, the Brothers Grimm and the poet and dramatist Laurence Binyon.

Many of the studies in our collection feed into that work: there are naturalistic studies of flowers, which were then worked-up into more stylised designs, and there are many humorous illustrations which could be used in books, including copies of work by Alice in Wonderland illustrator Sir John Tenniel.

Waller was a leading member of the Aesthetic Movement, which championed ‘art for art’s sake,’ emphasising the sensual qualities of art and design rather than any practical, moral or narrative purpose it might have. For a late-nineteenth-century aesthete, though, Waller’s background was unusual: he was the son of a builder. Robert John Waller ran a thriving building firm from Lyall Street in London, and when he died in 1892, Pickford Waller continued to run the business. Eventually, though, the arts came to hold more of his attention than bricks and mortar.

As well as being a practising artist himself, Pickford Waller was also an important collector and patron of the arts. In particular, he was an early supporter of James Abbot McNeill Whistler (1834-1903), who he first met as a young man when he visited Whistler’s studio with the artist Matthew White Ridley. Waller became an avid collector of Whistleriana, and Whistler’s influence can be seen in much of his work.

This collection was accompanied by a rare pamphlet, Bookplates by Pickford Waller, (pictured for information only, now sold) which gives examples of Waller’s book designs, and includes an introduction by W.G. Blaikie Murdoch, discussing Waller's work. According to Blaikie Murdoch, as well as being himself ‘a fecund artist,’ ‘Mr Pickford Waller is mainly known as a connoisseur, especially in modern art.’ He was ‘one of the earliest devotees of Whistler’, with ‘a wonderful collection of Whistleriana.’ For Blaikie Murdoch, though, it is Waller’s work in bookplates that ‘forms an epitome of his capacities.’

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Product code: JL-923

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