Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Robert Bateman's Heloise and Abelard



I ran across this painting while browsing Christie's website (hey, a girl can dream). It was pained by Robert Bateman(1842-1922), a lesser known artist who is considered more a member of the aesthetic movement than of the pre-raphaelite movement (i.e., he most likely preferred velvet knee-pants to medieval inspired garb).

Bateman was only known to have created 32 paintings during his career, and few have survived. His most well-known work, the Pool of Bethseda, was actually attributed to another artist with the same initials ( Richard Beavis )until 1965! His work has gained recognition over the past few decades as a result of its inclusion in several high-profile Pre-Raphaelite Exhibitions, including The Last Romantics, which appeared at the Barbican Art Gallery in 1989, and The Age of Rossetti, Burne-Jones and Watts: Symbolism in Britain 1860-1910, held at the Tate Gallery in 1997. Bateman was a tremendous fan of Edward Burne-Jones work and a accomplished artist in his own right, but he also pursued gardening and sculpture.

As for this painting, most people assume that the figures depicted are star-crossed lovers Heloise and Abelard, but nobody knows for sure, since Bateman didn't actually give a name to the picture himself. I'm interested to know what you guys think! I do think it's clearly a painting of two lovers whose time is running out. If you click to enlarge the painting, you'll see that Bateman has inscribed the phrase "carpe diem" near the base of the sundial. You will also note the dying sunflower draped over the sundial. (again, it's tough to think of two famous historical or fictional lovers whose time wasn't running out).

The painting is expected to fetch between £30,000 - £50,000 at auction ($46,350 - $77,250 USD).

For more information, visit Christie's website

11 comments:

willow said...

Heloise has such a haunting quality. Intriguing about the "carpe diem" on the sundial. And look at her hands! Is that my imagination or are they a tad on the large side? Seinfeld would say they were man hands! ;^)

Margaret said...

She does have rather substantial hands, doesn't she? I never even noticed that the first time around.

The Clever Pup said...

Thanks for introducing me to this Robert Batemean. As a Canadian I almost cruised right on past.

The sunflower and the stem pointing to 7 o clock looks like a code to me...

Thorsprincess said...

I think the whole scenario is consistent with Heloise and Abelard translated for the age of velvet knee pants! The Tuscan backdrop, the rich gown of the young woman, and well-tailored priestly garb seem perfect for an early 19th C. era wealthy student and highly acclaimed philosopher- priest. I'm happy with the name and I would love to bid on it if I had a few thousand spare pounds!

skatej said...

I thought Heloise had a rather manly chiseled face as well as large hands. Perhaps he was short on female models.

Note the apple by Heloise's, erm, lap area, as long as we're talking about symbolism.

Medieval Muse said...

I'm having a good laugh about all the comments to Heloise's masculinity in the painting. To me, so many of the PRB paintings have masculine looking women too - beyond statuesque or Classical - something in the size of their necks is most manly.

That aside, I so wish a proper movie would be made about the story of Heloise & Abelard. I know there is a musical.

Margaret said...

It definitely would make a great movie--although it would be pretty depressing!

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Luscious.

Maggie May said...

I am luxuriating in the name 'Heloise'!

Amazing richness, depth.

nicolette said...

A very classic feeling, and the details are amazing. Thanks for introducing Robert Bateman to us.

Nicolette
http://www.furnitureanddesignideas.com

Margaret said...

Yes, it is very classical looking. So beautiful and restful- I wish I could find something like this in a dusty attic somewhere. Oh well!