[Smetham, James- Autograph Letter] to Dante Gabriel Rossetti
by Smetham, James
Voluminous four-page letter by James Smetham, Pre-Raphaelite painter, close member of the Pre-Raphaelite circle and personal friend of Gabriel, who arduously tried to promote his paintings throughout their association lasting many decades. Smetham, also an essayist and art critic, suffered terribly from mental illness and sustained a final breakdown in 1877, living the rest of his life in seclusion. An early letter, dated Dec. 20, 1864, over 600 words, in which Smetham discusses painting practices and techniques, and thanks Rossetti for sending information on dealers, "perhaps the best effect has been to impress on me... the power of the "Portfolio.'" Rossetti's letter "led me to revise the idea.. of the use of water color as a medium ofr small designs..." etc., and "...I find that a watercolor design takes me twice or three times as long as one of these studies in oil." And interestingly, regarding the intrusion of photography on portrait painting: "I am almost free from anxiety as to market- a thing that since Photography walked off with portraiture I have often had to contend against." He is excited to see Rossetti in the studio and would like him to see some new studies and 'variety' in method. Discusses etching, the 'misadventure of the binder... the stupid binder, etc..." "The prospect of the Photography from your designs gives me much delight- there is nothing in Art I should value more.." etc. The two pages, once joined at the fold, have neatly severed. Together with a William Michael Rossetti holograph eight-line explanation and short bio of James Smethan on a separate sheet (small corner torn away and lost), as was WMR's habit, in annotating various autograph letters with separate notes. A truly great assemblage of historical and artistic PRB content. (Inventory #: 3028)
Rare and unusual books in the very best possible condition. Illustrated Books, Children's Books, Fine Bindings, Press Books, 1890's, Pre-Raphaelites, Original Illustration (especially American illustrators, 1880-1930), High Spots in English and American Literature, Autograph Letters and Signed Books, German Children's Books, Jugendstil, Wiener Werkstatte. Building collections, Appraisals.
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