Attr. George Henry Harlow
A young woman resting by a well
Prof. Julius Held (1905 – 2002), New York.
His sale; Christie’s, New York, 27 Jan. 2009, lot 58.
Private collection, UK.
Their sale; Christie’s, South Kensington, 27 Jan. 2015, lot 309, (unsold).
Their sale; Woolley & Wallis, Salisbury, 6 March 2019, lot 322 (unsold).
Joseph Farington’s diary entry for 9 Dec. 1802 records: ‘Lawrence has got a young pupil of 15 years of age who draws, Lane says, better than he (Lawrence) does. His name is Harlow’. Prior to this apprenticeship, George Harlow studied first under Hendrik Frans de Cort, and then with Samuel Drummond, before joining Lawrence’s studio apparently on the advice of the Duchess of Devonshire, who had noticed his talent. In the event, Harlow only remained with Lawrence for eighteen months, the two apparently falling out over Lawrence’s notorious inability to delegate more than the occasional piece of drapery painting to his assistants. Nonetheless, it is clear that Lawrence’s influence was crucial to Harlow’s development as a portrait painter.
Harlow made his debut at the Royal Academy in 1804 with a Portrait of Dr. Thornton, and thereafter focused much of his efforts on genre painting. Attempts at history painting were less successful, perhaps due to his lack of proper art education. In 1818, Harlow travelled to Italy where he was widely admired for his technical ability. He was befriended by the sculptor Antonio Canova, and earned considerable acclaim in Rome by painting a full size copy of Raphael’s Transfiguration, a feat that resulted in his election as an Academician of Merit in the Accademia di San Luca in Rome, a rare accolade for an English artist. He died shortly after his return to England the following year.
This picture formed part of the large and fascinating collection assembled by Professor Julius Held. Born in Germany, Held emigrated to the United States in 1934 and became a towering figure in art historical circles, widely recognised for his scholarship and expertise on Rubens, Rembrandt and Van Dyck. An author of many articles and books, including the 1980 two volume publication The Oil Sketches of Sir Peter Paul Rubens, Held donated two hundred master drawings from his collection to the National Gallery of Art in Washington in 1984.