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ENGLISH LITERATURE, HISTORY, CHILDREN'S BOOKS & ILLUSTRATIONS (July 14, 2015)
2 WATERCOLOURS OF FLOWERS ATTRIBUTED TO CHARLOTTE BRONTË, C.1839, COMPRISING:
Estimate 4,000 — 6,000 GBP
LOT SOLD. 4,250 GBP (Hammer Price with Buyer's Premium)
i) Study of a white carnation 280 x 224mm., watercolour on card, spotting and browning, with some soiling to lower right corner (not affecting image); ii) Study of convolvulus, a crocus and an aster. 271 x 228mm., watercolour on card, some minor spotting, soiled at edges (not affecting image) resulting from contact and adhesion along right edge to the remains of a folder; together with a portion of a folder inscribed "W. Sidgwick, May 16th 1843. | Healds Hall" and additionally inscribed in pencil above "J B Sidgwick"
Margaret Cooper (née Sidgwick, d.1918); her housekeeper Miss Polly Ives; thence by descent
WATERCOLOURS CONNECTED TO THE SIDGWICK FAMILY, FOR WHOM BRONTË WORKED AS GOVERNESS. Brontë joined the Sidgwick household as governess in 1839, but the post was not a success. She wrote to her sister that the Sidgwick children were "riotous, perverse, unmanageable cubs" and she left after only three months. However, the experience proved a fruitful literary source and their house, Stonegappe, and the frightful behaviour of the children is widely thought to have inspired the Reed family of Gateshead Hall in Jane Eyre.
These two attractive watercolours have been preserved for some time in a folder, of which one panel now remains and is inscribed by two of the Sidgwick children, William (b.1829) and John Benson (b.1835), and further inscribed "Healds Hall" by William. Healds Hall was a boarding school for boys some 25 miles from Stonegappe, and reveals a further Brontë connection: Charlotte herself had taught only a few miles from Healds Hall in 1837, when Margaret Wooler moved her school at Roe Head to nearby Healds House. She certainly knew of the boys school and its master Hammond Roberson, on whom she based Rev. Helstone in Shirley.The sheet on which the study of three flowers is executed bears a partial embossed stamp reading "Dobbs London", also seen on a portrait study attributed to Brontë sold in these rooms (10 July 2012, lot 61).