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Horace Middleton R.B.A - Signed 19th Century Watercolour, At the Water's Edge



Conducted with soft, striking brushwork and a pronounced, radiant palette, Middleton's works are often failed by words, a cut above the rest. This watercolour doesn't divert from this notion.

In this study, Middleton brings to life two distant red-headed maidens resting at the river's edge, holding the same mannerisms as the Sirens in his flagstone oil. The figures are surrounded by the sun's afterglow as the fleeting day makes way for the evening hours.

This fine watercolour is signed in the bottom right-hand corner and is well presented in a molded black frame with a gilded inner window and a cream mount.

On wove.


There is some light foxing found in the sky, but the artwork is in fine condition otherwise.


32 x 20.1cm (12.6" x 7.9")
Framed Size: 54.8 x 41.9cm (21.6" x 16.5")

Artist Biography

Horrace Middleton was a 19th-century British painter.

A popular portrait and landscape painter of the 19th-century, Horace Middleton was a member of the highly prestigious Royal Society of British Artists. The Arts institution was established in 1823 as an alternative to the British Royal Academy. Over the years, the Society attracted a number of painters and sculptors of great importance, including James McNeill Whistler, Walter Sickert, Philip de László, LS Lowry, Henry Moore, Peter Greenham, and Sir Roger de Grey. The great Claude Monet and Alfred Stevens were also honorary members. That Middleton was also a member of this exclusive society is a testament to the importance and exceptional quality of his works.

Middleton is most know for the highly important and masterfully executed oil on canvas entitled 'Sirens' (c.1910). The monumental mythological painting, which captures the famed Sirens from Homer’s Odyssey, was painted at the height of the British master’s career, and it is undoubtedly his masterpiece. Middleton beautifully brings together vibrant colors with striking brushwork to compose a painting that balances the classical conceptions of beauty with a distinctly modern, urbane sophistication.

The Sirens are among the most popular mythological subjects in the whole of art history, known for luring travelers to destruction with their melodious voices. The most well-known Siren lore comes from Homer’s Odyssey, in which they tempt the famed Odysseus on his journey home to Ithaca after the fall of Troy. Odysseus could not resist his chance to hear the famed song of the Sirens, as so, on the advice of the goddess Circe, he ordered his men to plug their ears and to tie him to the mast of his ship. No matter how much he struggled to reach the Sirens, his men kept him bound, and so he became the first to successfully hear — and survive — the Sirens’ song.

The subject of the enthralling Sirens was a popular one in the realm of art history, having featured extensively in ancient Greek art and, more recently, being captured by the likes of Herbert James Draper, Léon Belly and Edward Armitage. The legendary Pre-Raphaelite John William Waterhouse (1849-1917) also chose to depict them in his famed composition Ulysses and the Sirens, which he exhibited at London’s Royal Academy in 1891 and is currently in the collection of the National Gallery of Victoria (Melbourne).

Middleton would have undoubtedly been familiar with Waterhouse’s work, though Middleton’s is a more provocative retelling. He portrays them as nymph-like seductresses rather than the bird-like figures imagined by Waterhouse. Seated upon a seaside rock, Middleton’s mythological trio are depicted with their backs to the viewer, singing their song to entice two ships out at sea. Without question, this tour de force is the most important work ever composed by this artist.

More Information
Code qa734
Artist Horace Middleton R.B.A
Date Late 19th Century
Dimensions 32 x 20.1cm
Medium Watercolour
Style Impressionism
Subject Landscape
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