2018-05-30-2019-01-23 --- 2019-01-23 02:06:47--18
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LOT :75
Sir John Lavery RA RSA RHA (1856-1941)
Evening on the House Top, Tangier (1920)
Oil on canvas, 63 x 76cm (24¾ x 30'')
Estimate EUR : €25,000.00 - €35,000.00
Auction Date : 30-05-2018


Sir John Lavery RA RSA RHA (1856-1941)
Evening on the House Top, Tangier (1920)
Oil on canvas, 63 x 76cm (24¾ x 30'')
Signed; also signed, inscribed and dated 1920 verso

Provenance: Given by the artist to his friend, Donald Jenkins; Sale, Christie's, 1999; Private Collection.

John Lavery was born in Belfast in 1856, son of Henry Lavery, a wine and spirit merchant and his wife Mary. His father died in a ship wreck off the Wexford coast and his mother died heartbroken, a few months later. Now an orphan John was sent to live with an uncle in Co Down before moving to Scotland. In 1874 he enrolled in the Haldane Academy in Glasgow before moving to Paris to study under Bouguereau at the Académie Julian. By 1888 he was back in Glasgow and was commissioned to paint the state visit of Queen Victoria to the Glasgow International Exhibition. This launched his career as a society painter and he moved to London soon after. Snoddy notes that Morocco first attracted him in 1890 and that his 1891 show at the Goupil Gallery in London contained quite a number of North African subjects.


Professor Kenneth McConkey has written of the present work: InEvening on the Housetop, TangierLavery refreshes one of his first and most successful North African themes. On his first visit to Tangier in January 1891, the painter was enchanted by the 'white city' overlooking the Straits of Gibraltar. Pacing the narrow alleyways of the Medina and the bustling marketplace, he found scenes that washed the dull light of the Glasgow studio from his eyes. Like Edith Wharton, he would often hear music coming from the upper storeys of buildings and, surveying the city from the top of his hotel, he found that young women, forsaking the drab costumes of the street, would dance and sing in the cool of the evening on the flat roofs, wearing their most colourful attire. During the next two years on longwinter visits, his objective was to paint such a scene and it culminated inA Moorish Dance, a picture shown at the Royal Academy in 1893.

Thereafter Lavery's career blossomed; he moved to London, worked in Rome and Berlin and in the late nineties returned to his student stamping ground at Grez-sur-Loing. Nevertheless the memory of Tangier remained vivid and in 1903 he returned for an extended stay, eventually purchasing Dar-el-Midfah, a house on Mount Washington to the south-west of the Medina as a winter studio. On this flat-roofed Moroccan villa he would recreate the indolent harem atmosphere of the original Moorish dance inEvening, Tangier1908 (Birmingham City Art Gallery). Other variants such asNight, Tangier(Ulster Museum, Belfast), followed, and in other instances the rooftop motif was maintained until, with the outbreak of war in 1914, Lavery's winter visits to the 'white city' were halted.

They only resumed six years later on what was to be the last occasion whenEvening on the Housetopwas painted. Looking out over the Straits his favourite theme revived - the figure standing by the wall looks towards the spectator waiting for the song to begin and the old ritual to re-commence. It was anenvoi. Lavery was never to go back to Tangier and in 1923, Dar-el-Midfah was sold.

We are grateful to Prof. McConkey for his assistance in the cataloguing of this work.

Hammer Price : €23,000.00
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