|Ida John was the daughter of the painter John (Jack) Trivett Nettleship. She was a student at the Slade with Gwen and Augustus John.|
In his biography of Augustus John (1974), Michael Holroyd writes: 'Before leaving the Slade, Augustus had taken up with another student, Ida Nettleship...Ida was a very sexually attractive girl with slanted oriental eyes, a sensuous mouth, dark curly hair and a dark complexion. There seemed a wild, untamed quality about her...’
Augustus and Ida were married in 1901. She bore him five sons in the years 1902-7. By 1904 Augustus had also taken up with Dorelia McNeill, and the three of them lived in a ménage-a-trois, much remarked on at the time. Tragically, five days after the birth of her fifth son, Ida died in Paris at the age of thirty.
William Rothenstein was a key figure in the British art world in the first half of the 20th century. Originally from a German-Jewish family in Bradford, he attended the Slade School in the late 1880s, followed by four years in Paris. There he studied at the Académie Julien and absorbed the influences of French art - in particular that of Puvis de Chavannes, Degas and Toulouse-Lautrec. By 1900, back in England, he assumed the artistic management of the Carfax Gallery and from that time on became deeply involved in the politics of the British art world. His painting thereafter tended to concentrate on portraiture and, after his move to Gloucestershire in 1912, on landscape as well. He was instrumental in the development of the Official War Artists Scheme in the First World War, working himself in France in the years 1917-19. From 1920 to 1935 he was the highly influential Principal of the Royal College of Art. He was knighted in 1931.
This painting of Ida John can be dated very close to 1900, when Rothenstein was back in England. His younger brother Albert (later Rutherston) had met Augustus and Ida at the Slade School when he enrolled in 1898, and it was through Albert that William became friends with them as well. The portrait of Ida is a fine example of Rothenstein’s work at the very point in his career when his French and English ideas flowed together most attractively. He had returned from France determined to seek out Degas-like subjects in his own country and there are distinct echoes of the French master in his treatment of Ida. Rothenstein plays down the portraiture element and presents her simply as an objective female figure in repose. It is neither fanciful to see echoes of a Parisian absinthe-drinker in the figure of Ida, nor indeed of a London coster-girl or flower-seller at the same time. Inevitably one can see comparisons with the figure paintings of that other great voice for French art in England at that time, Rothenstein’s friend and close contemporary Walter Richard Sickert.
Rothenstein was greatly taken with Ida John and he was devastated by her early death in Paris in 1907. In his Men and Memories, Vol II, 1932, he recalled how he couldn’t travel to France when he heard that she was ill. ‘I never forgave myself for this hesitation; I knew I should have gone at once. I loved no woman more than Ida; and I knew John to be in the deepest trouble. I was never to see Ida again; her beauty and her light were gone’.
Ida John’s features are known from a number of fine pencil works by her husband Augustus, but this low-toned, sensitive study of her by William Rothenstein must rank as one of the very best images of her ever painted in oils.
|Lot ID: 89|
|Low Estimate: GBP 16,000|
|High Estimate: GBP 18,000|
|Next Bid: GBP 8,000|
|Sale ID: 1|
|Sale Date: July 14, 2016|
|Sale Location: Virtual Live Auction|
|Sale Sponsor: British Antique Dealers Association|
|Sale Terms: View here|
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|Location of Origin: England|
|Medium/Materials: Oil on Canvas|
|Dimensions: 24 x 20 ins, 61 x 50.8 cms.|
|Primary Classification: Antique Picture Frames and Fine Art for Sale : European Art|
|Item Condition:||SIR WILLIAM ROTHENSTEIN N.E.A.C. (1872 – 1945) Portrait of Ida John, née Nettleship Oil on canvas 24 x 20 ins, 61 x 50.8 cms. Painted circa 1900 The portrait has been lined and cleaned recently to remove a layer of badly discoloured varnish. There are some minor retouchings visible under u.v. light. The canvas surface is good.|
|Price:||Price on Request|
|Offered By:||BADA Antiques Auction : 413 Lots : July 14,2016 : 10AM EST|
|Contact:||The Curators Eye|
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