Watercolour reveals early view of the Gallery
A new acquisition shows the Gallery’s spectacular enfilade as it would have been in the 1830s. The watercolour by James Stephanoff (c. 1788-1874), includes some of our most celebrated works including Gainsborough’s Linley Sisters hanging above the entrance, and the recently restored Saint Cecilia.
The watercolour was bought at auction for £3,200 hammer price in September 2012. Dr Xavier Bray, Chief Curator at Dulwich Picture Gallery, said:
“This is one of the earliest views of the Gallery’s enfilade we know and when Christie’s showed it to me, I knew it simply had to be acquired by the Gallery. Since this was the ‘London Sale’- with a double decker bus as the preceding lot - none of the usual dealers or collectors were present, which meant that I was almost alone bidding for it. Thanks to one of our Trustees, Johnny van Haeften, I was allowed to bid up to a certain amount. We are extremely grateful to both Johnny and Sarah van Haeften for funding the acquisition as well as the conservation and the re-framing of the work.”
The son of a Russian stage designer who settled in London, Stephanoff became the official ‘Historical Painter in Watercolours’ to William IV, where he painted incidents in the lives of famous painters such as Rubens, Van Dyck, Rosa and Titian. In 1820 he collaborated with A. Pugin on a large picture of George IV’s coronation.