19 May 2011

Pre-Raphaelite Chess

When choosing an item for this fortnightly series on Top eBay Chess Items by Price, I always give priority to a painting or drawing, so I was happy to find the work pictured below. The title was 'Chess Victorian Oil Painting by John Ritchie 1857-1875; Pre Raphaelite Artist - Listed to GBP 42,000', where 'listed to' means the artist, not the piece on auction. Whether from fortune hunters, art lovers, or chess aficionados, the painting received 30 bids and sold for GBP 440, which eBay calculated to be 'approximately US $710.42'.

The description said,

A Game of Chess; An Original Oil Painting on Canvas by John Ritchie (fl.1857-1875).

A very fine oil painting on canvas depicting an elegant young couple playing chess in an interior by highly regarded Victorian artist and follower of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood John Ritchie. The painting is a fine example of the artist's genre work. The painting is in very fine condition, the canvas lined in the late 20th century, with some very minor losses upper right and lower right, the paint layer stable and the painting in generally very good condition, clean, attractive and ready to hang. The painting is presented in a modern Victorian style wood and gilt composite frame, the frame with losses lower left otherwise very good. The painting is signed with the artist's monogram lower right and indistinctly dated, possibly 1874.

John Ritchie was one of the committed of followers of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood who worked in the sphere which orbited the small group of artists at its core. His experiments in the Pre-Raphaelite vein are extremely rare and indeed it is uncommon to find a painting in private hands. John Ritchie was a short-lived artist whose work showed great promise in the 1860s and early 1870s, a time when British art was experiencing a surge in energy as the influence of Pre-Raphaelitism permeated the younger generation of artists. His work is comparable with that of William Dyce in the late 1850s and early 1860s, with the same clarity of lighting, bright colouring and superb rendering of natural detail.

I'm not sure it's really a chess game. The board appears to be twice as long as it is wide and the woman is resting her elbow on the corner, something you never do with a chess board. If, like me, you don't have a clue what Pre-Raphaelite means, see Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood on Wikipedia.

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