- Museum number
'Heartsease' or pansies and fern-shoots; close-up study of yellow, blue and black pansies, delphinia, moss and fern-shoots. 1862
Watercolour and bodycolour on card
- Production date
Height: 153 millimetres
Width: 146 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- J. Gere, Pre-Raphaelite drawings in the BM, 1994, wrote:
Ruskin admired Brett's early landscapes, and advised and encouraged him over 'The Val d'Aosta', which he eventually purchased. This intense little 'close-up' of a detail of a landscape is entirely in his spirit. One of Brett's exhibits in the 1857 Pre-Raphaelite exhibition in Russell Place was 'Moss and Gentian, from the Engels Horner'.
Christopher Newall, in 'PreRaphaelite Vision', Tate, 2004, p. 54, listed a number of other studies of flowers exhibited by Brett in the 1850s and 60s, most of which are untraced. A study of Alpine Gentians from 1862 is now in the Williamson Art Gallery, Birkenhead and the present study was likely to have been made after he returned from Italy in March 1862, when he was back in England in the spring or summer of 1862 when he painted 'Norbury on the Mole', oil, Sotheby's 14 June 2001, lot 37, now Lloyd Webber collection). Newell notes that Ruskin admired the still-life watercolours of William Henry Hunt for their naturalistic accuracy and Brett probably looked to them for inspiration, although he places his flowers close to the picture plane, avoiding three-dimensionality.
Christiana Payne, in 'John Brett, Pre-Raphaelite Landscape Painter', Yale, 2010, p. 72, noted that the original title of this work was 'Heartsease' and in the language of flowers pansies are associated with thought and the fragile beauty of young women. She believes this series of small flower studies was intended to demonstrate his mastery of the medium. Charles Brett, in the same book, established the provenance of this work (cat. no. 415, p. 208).
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1994-1995 Sept-Jan, BM, Pre-Raphaelite Drawings, no.52
1995-1996 Nov-Apr, BM, Recent Acquisitions (no cat.)
2004 Feb-May, London, Tate Britain, 'Pre-Raphaelite Vision: Truth to Nature'
2004 June-Sep, Berlin, Altes Nationalgalerie, 'Pre-Raphaelite Vision: Truth to Nature'
2004-2005 Oct-Jan, Madrid, Fundacion 'la Caixa', 'Pre-Raphaelite Vision: Truth to Nature'
2009 Feb-May, Stockholm, Nationalmuseum, The Pre-Raphaelites...
2010/2011 Oct-May, Washington/Paris, The Pre-Raphaelite Lens LOAN REFUSED, EXPOSURE
2017 23 Feb-27 Aug, London, BM, G90, Places of the Mind: British Landscape watercolours 1850-1950
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- This item has an uncertain or incomplete provenance for the years 1933-45. The British Museum welcomes information and assistance in the investigation and clarification of the provenance of all works during that era.
This drawing and one of 'Gentians' now in Birkenhead were both originally owned by G R Burnett who sold them at Christie's 4 March 1864 where the present watercolour was titled 'Heartsease'; they were both purchased by Vokins ('Heartsease' for 10gs, 'Gentian' for 11gs) who sold them both to James Patry; they were included in his sale at Christie's May 18, 1888 when they were split up; the Pansies was purchased for 2 1/2 gs by an unidentified 'Green'. It is not clear how they were acquired by the Moss Galleries, from whom they were purchased by Stephen Somerville.
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number