William Dyce, The Meeting of Jacob and Rachel, Est. £100,000 – 150,000. Photo: Sotheby's.
LONDON.- A stunning William Dyce painting that has been lost for over a century is to be offered for sale at Sotheby’s next week. The Meeting of Jacob and Rachel is expected to fetch between £100,000 – 150,000 when it is offered for sale in Sotheby’s Victorian and Edwardian Art sale on Wednesday 15 July 2009. The painting illustrates the Biblical text ‘Jacob kissed Rachel and lifted up his voice, and wept’ - Rachel’s father had tricked Jacob into working for him without payment on the understanding that he could marry Rachel. The work has been untraced since it was exhibited in the 1850s – first at the Royal Academy in 1850 and later at the Manchester Art Treasures exhibition in 1857. The discovery was made when an image of the work was sent to Sotheby’s specialists who were later able to identify it as the original by a small part of torn label on the reverse that identified it as having been in the Manchester exhibition.
Discussing the work Grant Ford, Senior Director and Head of Victorian Paintings at Sotheby’s said: “This is one of the most important pre-Raphaelite paintings to appear on the market for some time. It is thrilling to have uncovered the whereabouts of this striking Dyce work, especially as it was just last autumn that we set a record William Dyce, The Meeting of Jacob and Rachel, Est. £100,000 – 150,000 for a work by the artist at auction with Welsh landscape of two women knitting which was included in the sale of the Scott Collection at Sotheby’s London.”
The painting illustrates the Biblical text ‘Jacob kissed Rachel and lifted up his voice, and wept.’ Rachel’s father had tricked Jacob into working for him without payment on the understanding that he could marry Rachel. However, after fourteen years he insisted that Jacob should first marry his elder daughter Leah before eventually allowing him to marry Rachel. This theme must have been particularly meaningful to the artist as he had been forced to delay his own marriage until January 1890 – maybe on account of the 27 year age difference between him and his 19 year old bride.
Other highlights of the Victorian and Edwardian Art auction include Liverpool Docks, by John Atkinson Grimshaw, an atmospheric night-time depiction of 19th century Liverpool estimated at £250,000-350,000 and Wind and Sun by Dame Laura Knight – a light-filled costal scene painted in Cornwall expected to fetch £200,000-300,000.