Solomon's £1m Eve heads Victorian and Impressionist sale

Christie's are holding a sale of Victorian and British Impressionist art tomorrow.

Two of the paintings attracting the most interest are by Dame Laura Knight, and Sir Alfred Munnings, though a special interest has been sparked in a rediscovered work linking the two.

Laura Knight The Morning Ride
Laura Knight's The Morning Ride

Acclaimed artist Dame Laura Knight's watercolour The Morning Ride is valued at �150,000-250,000. It depicts an idyllic scene of children riding and leading a donkey past a fountain in a country garden with blue skies and fluffy clouds above.

Sir Alfred James Munnings' 1911 oil painting Horses and Gypsy Caravans presents both under summery dappling, with the horses' manes catching the light. It represented the start of a more fluid style for the painter, who became president of the Royal Academy.

Several of both painters' works appear in the sale. Knight knew Munnings well, and found him tremendously impressive when they first met. Her husband, Harold Knight, was less enamoured with him - perhaps because of this interest.

Laura Knight learned to paint by copying her future husband at work, before eclipsing him in her fame as an artist. So it's possible to read various metaphors and comments into the fact that a complete oil painting of Munnings by Harold Knight has been found hidden behind the canvas of Le Carnival by Laura Knight.

Harold Knight Alfred Munnings
Harold Knight's Alfred Munnings Reading

In the former painting, Munnings is reading, but is clearly speaking as well, as his free hand is raised to draw attention or gesticulate. It resembles a most famous, though lost, 1911 work by H Knight, The Sonnet, in which the charismatic Munnings reads to an impressed female audience.

The work is estimated at up to �50,000, whilst Le Carnival is expected to fetch as much as �30,000 - but it's difficult to place values on the works, given the context.

Solomon Joseph Solomon Eve
Upper half of Solomon Joseph Solomon's Eve

Solomon Joseph Solomon's three metre tall oil painting Eve is expected to be the top lot, listed at �700,000 - �1,000,000. The work depicts the famous biblical scene of Eve being created from Adam's rib, with angels raising her from her sleeping mate.

The work has been the property of Ealing council since it was bequeathed by the painter's widow.

Christie's intriguing sale takes place tomorrow, December 16, in King Street, London.


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