Portraits of Hartley Coleridge (1796-1849), George Eliot (1819-80) and James Pope- Hennessy (1916-74), none of which have been publicly displayed before, are featured at Intriguing British Pictures running from February 6-17 at a Shepherd Market gallery space in Mayfair.
The newly discovered drawing of Coleridge by John Harden shows the poet poised and calm.
Son of the celebrated Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Hartley is often remembered as a dreamer and failure, thanks in part to the writings of his brother Derwent.
He records how Hartley’s dismissal from a Fellowship at Oxford due to drink led to a life of ruin and waste. However, in this Harden drawing, Hartley appears serious, if slightly dreamy, giving the figure a new dimension.
Around a century later, biographer and travel writer Pope-Hennessy also struggled with drink.
Though he earned success as a writer, he was alcoholic and profligate and at the end of his life had fallen into poverty.
This portrait by Flavia Blois shows him as a young man at the beginning of his career. It is offered for a price in the region of £12,500.
The Hartley Coleridge picture is offered for a price in the region of £25,000. This drawing, and the portrait of Eliot, have both received museum attention.
Her portrait, a chalk pastel of the author as a young woman by an unknown artist, was discovered by the dealership’s Andrew Sim at auction in south Oxfordshire in 2016, when he acquired it for £50. At that point, the sitter had not been identified but after buying it on a hunch, several scholars have given it the nod.
Among theories on the work is one that it was completed by a picture restorer for whom she held intense feelings, if briefly, in 1845.
It has now been chosen as the cover illustration of Cambridge University Press’ 200th anniversary edition of her collected works.
Another literary lady at the show is Elizabeth Gaskell.
Her portrait is also a recent discovery, an oil on canvas believed to have been painted by Louis-Pierre Spindler in the 1850s. It falls between her well-known portrait that George Richmond completed in 1851 before the more matronly photographs of her in 1860. It is not known if she sat for Spindler, though the specificity of the work suggests that she did.
These three works will be offered alongside a selection of around 100 other pictures in a range of styles and periods.