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Exhibition of Water-colour Drawings and Pictures - ART EXHIBITION: CRIMEAN WAR.) - 1855. 
London: A. and G. A. Spottiswoode, 1855 - Square octavo, 66 pp. Original bright blue morocco-grain cloth by Westleys & Co (with their ticket), gilt lettered on front cover, both covers with gilt panelling enclosing large ornamental corner-pieces and central royal arms, all edges gilt, pale yellow coated endpapers. A little rubbed at extremities. An exceptional copy. List of royal donors printed in gold. First and only edition; rare: Copac cites only the copy at the V&A amongst British and Irish institutional libraries, OCLC adds one copy worldwide (at Yale), although we have traced a copy in the Royal Collection. The handsomely produced catalogue of the exhibition held at Ernest Gambart's French Gallery at 121 Pall Mall, listing 754 works of art donated to the fund, including pieces by five of Queen Victoria's children. As stated on the title page, admission was one shilling, the price of the catalogue sixpence, and the show was open from ten in the morning until six in the evening. Jeremy Maas gives an interesting account of the exhibition in his biography of Gambart: "A committee of London society ladies and gentlemen, under the patronage of the Queen's aged aunt, the Duchess of Gloucester, had decided to make a contribution to the Patriotic Fund by putting on an exhibition of paintings, sketches and drawings by amateurs and artists, the entire proceeds of which were destined for the widows and children of officers who had fallen in the war in the Crimea. The only gallery suitable in any way for this laudable enterprise, and the only person deemed capable of doing it justice, were the French Gallery in Pall Mall and the enterprising Mr Gambart. The exhibition was fixed for April, after the closing of his normal Winter Exhibition. It all looked very well, but something to fire the imagination was needed. Accordingly, the Queen graciously premitted drawings by the Princess Royal, the Prince of Wales, Prince Alfred and the Princesses Alice and Helena to be shown. On the eve of the opening the water-colour by the fifteen-year-old Princess Royal arrived; it was entitled, 'A woman looking for her husband among the dead and wounded after the Battle of Inkerman' [entitled 'The Battle Field' on p. 5 of the catalogue]. Asked about the price, the Princess replied, 'Would a guinea be too much?' Accustomed to asking high prices for anything that passed through his hands, Gambart felt that this was quite out of the question. While the committee was trying to hit upon a tactful way of asking the Princess to raise the price, Gambart seized his chance. Taking a large piece of paper, he wrote at the top: 'Water-colour by the Princess Royal for sale to the last and highest bidder', and put himself down for 75 guineas. Before long appeared a bid of 100 guineas.Gambart promptly put himself down again for 125 guineas. At the end of the exhibition the water-colour stood at 450 guineas. Perhaps Gambart was relieved to have been able to demonstrate his patriotism without paying a heavy price; nevertheless, he packed the gallery daily with eager and curious crowds. Eventually he had the Princess Royal's water-colour lithographed and opened a subscription list at a guinea a print; the money earned from the print - about £1,200 - was added to the £13,000 made through the exhibition by fees at the door and the sale of works" (Gambart: Prince of the Victorian Art World, 1975, pp. 70-71). [Attributes: First Edition]
[Bookseller: Peter Harrington. ABA member]
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