Charles Samuel Keene

Two Artists Working by Lamplight in a Studio


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In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Charles Samuel Keene 1823–1891
Ink on paper
Support: 187 × 127 mm
Purchased 1984

Catalogue entry


Pen and brown ink on grey-cream thin wove paper 7 3/8 × 5 (187 × 127), the left edge torn (? from a sketch-book)
Inscribed on the back ‘Hayes & Rossiter’ in ink top centre and ‘CK’ in monogram in pencil b.l.
Purchased (Grant-in-Aid) 1984
Prov: ‘The artist's sale, Hammersmith’ (? a house sale after Keene's death in 1891; not in Lugt, and not yet traced), bt ‘Mr Cockerell, the builder’, by whom given to Edith Holman-Hunt, William Holman Hunt's second wife (see below);...; anon. sale Christie's 19 June 1979 (193, repr. facing p.39) bt Fine Art Society, from whom purchased by the Tate Gallery
Exh: Paintings and Drawings of the 1860 Period, Tate Gallery, April–July 1923 (315, as ‘W. Holman-Hunt instructing Dante Gabriel Rossetti in his Cleveland Street studio... 1847’, lent by Mrs Holman-Hunt)

Even without the monogram ‘CK’ on the back (or even if this were still invisible; see below), there can be no doubt stylistically that this drawing is by Charles Keene; it corresponds in style with other works of c.1860.

According to Christie's 1979 catalogue, there was a label (apparently now lost) attached to the backboard ‘signed and inscribed by Mrs. M.E. [sic] Holman Hunt, the artist's second wife’ (in fact Edith, née Waugh, whom he married in 1876) which read ‘Drawing by Sandys? of Holman Hunt in his Cleveland Street studio where D.G. Rossetti came to him as a pupil. D.G.R.'s head is seen sitting behind W.H.H. The gas-stand shown beside W.H.H. I sold when I gave up the studio 1919 - My builder Mr. Cockerell bought the drawing at Charles Keene's sale in Hammersmith & gave it to me’. As the drawing was formerly stuck to another sheet of paper, Charles Keene's monogram and the inscription ‘Hayes & Rossiter’ may not have been seen by her, though it is possible that the name ‘Rossiter’ was mis-reported to her or mis-read by her as that of Rossetti. Mrs Holman-Hunt's comments on the drawing were presumably invited by the compiler of the 1923 exhibition; she evidently supposed that the drawing was by ‘Sandys’ (presumably Frederick Sandys, 1829–1904) and that it portrayed William Holman Hunt and Rossetti in about 1847, a period in Holman Hunt's life of which she can have had no first-hand knowledge. The 1923 catalogue correctly attributed the drawing to Keene; it added a reference presumably supplied by Mrs Holman-Hunt to William Holman Hunt's Pre-Raphaelitism and the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, 2nd ed., 1913, I, p.78, a passage in which Hunt recalled that in about 1847 he decided to live in his studio (in Cleveland Street), whereupon Rossetti ‘again broached the project of working under me for my hourly superintendence and instruction in painting’ and of sharing Hunt's studio. Mrs Holman-Hunt's belief that the drawing depicts such a scene probably accounts for the date of ‘1847’ attached to the drawing in the 1923 exhibition catalogue.

The inscription ‘Hayes & Rossiter’ on the back of T03840, apparently in Keene's hand, and in a prominent place, suggests that ‘Hayes’ and ‘Rossiter’ may be the two artists portrayed here; but they have not been identified. ‘Hayes’ could be one of several artists of that name; ‘Rossiter’ could be the Charles Rossiter mentioned by H.L. Mallalieu as an art teacher who married the artist Frances Rossiter in 1860 (Dictionary of Watercolour Artists up to 1920, 1976, p.225), or possibly the William Rossiter, follower of F.D. Maurice, founder of the Working Men's College, who himself began a South London equivalent in 1868.

Or does Charles Keene in fact include a self-portrait here? The face of the foremost figure - bearded, moustached, with thin features and tousled hair - seems to bear a distinct resemblance to that of Keene as he portrayed himself, both at work, in a series of sketches repr. Derek Hudson, Charles Keene, 1947, pl.1, and in a small pen and ink self-portrait, seated, in the Tate's collection (T 02088).

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1982-84: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1986

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