Sir Max Beerbohm

The Man from Hymettus. Mr Frederick Leighton


Not on display

Sir Max Beerbohm 1872–1956
Graphite and watercolour on paper
Support: 438 × 318 mm
Bequeathed by Sir Hugh Walpole 1941

Catalogue entry

A01057 [from] ROSSETTI AND HIS FRIENDS (TWENTY-THREE DRAWINGS) 1916–17 [A01038-A01060; complete]
Bequeathed by Sir Hugh Walpole 1941.
Coll: Mrs Charles Hunter; from whom purchased by the Leicester Galleries; from whom purchased by Sir Hugh Walpole 1921.
Lit: Lynch, 1921, pp.146–50.

A series of twenty-three drawings, variously dated 1916 and 1917. Fifteen were lent by Mrs Charles Hunter to the Modern Loan Exhibition, Grosvenor Gallery, November 1917 (98); the complete series was first exhibited at the Leicester Galleries, September 1921 (1), in the order in which they are given here, again as Rossetti and his Friends. They were published in book form by Heinemann in 1922 as Rossetti and His Circle, possibly an allusion to Rossetti's Dante and His Circle, the second edition of his translations from the early Italian poets, published in 1874. The complete series of drawings was further exhibited in Paintings and Drawings of the 1860 Period, Tate Gallery, April–July 1923 (336), and was on loan to the Tate Gallery from June 1938. For further details, see below (artists represented in the collection will be fully discussed in the appropriate section of the catalogue).

(xx) Inscr. ‘A Man from Hymettus. Mr. Frederick Leighton: “Think not for a moment, my dear Mr. Rossetti, that I am insensible to the charm of a life secluded, as yours is, from the dust of the arena, from the mire of the market-place. Ah no - I envy you your ivory tower. How often at some council meeting of the R.A. have I echoed within me that phrase of Wordsworth's, ‘the world is too much with us’. But alas, in all of us there is a duality of nature. You, O felix nimium, are singer as well as painter. I, separated from my easel, am but a citizen. And the civistic passion - yes, passion, dear Mr. Rossetti-restrains the impulse of the artist in me towards solitude and curbs the panting of the hart in me for the water-brooks. I feel that I have, in conjunction with my colleagues, a duty to the nation. To me the taste of the Sovereign, the taste of her ever-genial first-born and his sweet and gracious consort, of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal and of the faithful Commons, of the Judicial Bench, of those who direct the Army and Navy and the Reserve forces, of our merchant princes in Threadneedle Street and of our Squires in the Shires, and through all these to bring light and improvement to those toiling millions on whom ultimately the glory of Great Britain rests - all this is in me an ambition not be be stifled and an aspiration not to be foregone. You smile, Mr. Rossetti, yet I am not disemboldened to say now, as I have often wished to say to you, in the words of the Apostle Paul, ‘Come over and help us’. Our President - I grant you in confidence - is not of all men the most enlightened; but I, in virtue of what is left to me of youth and ardour, conjoined with the paltry gift of tact, have some little influence in Burlington House. Come now! - let me put your name down in our Candidates' Book.”’ below and ‘Max 1916’ b.l.
Pencil and watercolour, 17 1/4×12 1/2 (44×32).
Exh: Grosvenor Gallery, November 1917 (98, 12); Leicester Galleries, September 1921 (20); Tate Gallery, April–July 1923 (336, 20); on loan to the Tate Gallery from June 1938.
Lit: Lynch, 1921, p.148.
Repr: Rossetti and His Circle, 1922, pl.19 (in colour).

The President of the Royal Academy referred to is Sir Francis Grant, whom Leighton succeeded in 1878.

Published in:
Mary Chamot, Dennis Farr and Martin Butlin, The Modern British Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, London 1964, I

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