Lowell Libson & Jonny Yarker Ltd

  • Pen, ink and wash
  • 5 ¾ × 4 ½ inches · 145 × 113 mm
  • Drawn in 1818
  • £2,500

Collections

  • John Postle Heseltine (1843-1929); 
  • Charles F. Bell (1871-1966);
  • Private collection, UK to 2024

This refined design for a mural monument is characteristic of Flaxman’s lucid drawings for his sculpture. Flaxman shows a single classically dressed female figure placing a laurel crown on a blank tablet, this field was left clear for the dedicatory inscription. Flaxman methodically kept records of his designs and payments for commissions, this design is therefore repeated in a book of Flaxman’s later sculptural projects from the Oppé collection at Tate and recorded in Flaxman’s account book at Columbia University, New York. The drawing in the Oppé volume is dated ‘Jan 9 1818’ and the account book reveals that the monument was ordered for George Ellis on September 18, 1818 and erected on July 6 1820 at Sunning Hill, Staines, Berkshire.

George Ellis (1753-1815) was a poet, antiquary and Member of Parliament. His Specimens of the Early English Poets and Specimens of Early English Metrical Romances published in 1790 played a significant role in acquainting the general reading public with Middle English poetry. This almost certainly explains the suitability of Flaxman’s design, showing, as it does the muse of dance and lyric poetry, Terpsichore, holding her lyre.