Saturday, March 20, 2010

J. W. Waterhouse - Isabella and the Pot of Basil

John William Waterhouse's painting, Isabella and the Pot of Basil, is shown above the fireplace in Rod Stewart's Beverly Hills mansion master suite. The lovely photograph (photo by Mary E. Nichols) is from a 2007 Architectural Digest piece. Link
(Link to beginning of photographs from the Digest.)

“I would give anything to work at Sotheby’s,” says Stewart, who—fame aside—is a collector like any other collector. He reads auction catalogues in bed. He frets about running out of space. He always has his eye on something, though he has learned to bid with caution and from a distance. “It’s so-o-o addictive,” he says. ... The collection that gives Stewart the most pleasure is his Pre-Raphaelite paintings, which he believes to be one of the largest in the world. The heroes and heroines of his canvases are caught in various late-Victorian states of ecstasy, many of them, the singer explains, “based on the poems of Keats and Tennyson.” About a third of the collection is hung here, most dramatically on the split entrance hall stair, paintings of women on one side and couples on the other. He reminds us, "You have no idea how big those paintings are until you’re standing next to them." - Link to the text of the Architectural Digest article this is taken from.

On page 193 of Peter Trippi's 2002 Waterhouse monograph, it is written that Isabella and the Pot of Basil was "unlocated" at that time.

I checked this yesterday after reading a blog posting by Alison Flood about a recent fundraising event for the Keats-Shelley house in Rome.

In the posting, Alison shares something Catherine Payling, curator of the Keats-Shelley House, told her. While "searching for the whereabouts of John William Waterhouse's painting Isabella and the Pot of Basil, based on Keats's poem of the same name, she was pointed towards, of all people, Rod Stewart. An eagle-eyed expert had spotted what appears to be the painting, hanging in Stewart's Beverley Hills mansion, in an "at home" feature the singer did with Architectural Digest [May 2007]."

Alison wrote, "Whether or not it turns out to be the original remains to be seen ..."

Today ArtMagick confirmed that it is: "per Peter Trippi, Waterhouse's biographer, as far as he is aware, the original painting 'Isabella' is indeed in Rod Stewart's collection."

The work was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1907. Anthony Hobson shared the following about the painting in his 1980 publication. It first became part of the H. W. Henderson collection. (H. W. was the brother of Alexander Henderson - (Also see about halfway down this page from Julia Kerr for information about the Hendersons.) The painting was purchased in 1948 by Gooden & Fox for 35gn. at a Christie's auction. A "Mrs Wigan" is then listed in the provenance - I believe this is Aline Henderson, H. W. Henderson's daughter. She married John Tyson Wigan in 1911. The painting appeared at Christie's again in 1967 and became part of the Lord Lambton collection. In 1971 it was shown at Mappin Art Gallery, Sheffield UK as part of a Burne-Jones exhibition.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, I had no idea Rod Stewart had such good classical taste. I love the painting of course but also the couch-bed, flooring and blue box. And I agree classical art is sooo addictive