Alexander Mark Rossi (British 1840-1916); "The Little Rebels"; watercolour on paper; signed lower left; in its original glazed, gilt wood and composition frame; 102 x 68.5cm (40 x 27ins) sight (visible painting) size; 135 x 103cm (53 x 40.5ins) overall size including frame.
Interestingly, although Rossi's portrayal of the human and, indeed, canine, form is undeniably exceptional, he was clearly less comfortable with that of the avian. At the top of the painting an outline is visible where he had clearly attempted to paint the bird in flight, and indeed the attention of the girl appears to be directed towards this. He has then changed his mind and painted the bird (again, perhaps not altogether successfully) in the foliage instead. However, because the focus of one's attention is drawn more to the exquisitely painted girl and her dog and the birdcage and jardinière, the bird itself becomes largely irrelevant and its modification more a point of interest than detraction.
EXHIBITED: Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolour (RI) in 1887 (many thanks to Ian Bliss, archivist for the RI, for his kind efforts to identify the date it was exhibited). The original exhibition label is on the reverse of the frame. This includes Rossi's address as 42 Upper Park Road, London, where he resided between 1886 and 1896. There is also a price on the label of 126 pounds and 5 shillings (equivalent to approximately £7,561.11 in today's money).
PROVENANCE: a deceased estate, a substantial property in the Manchester area. The painting was taken from a wall where the accumulated dust behind it indicated that it had clearly been hanging there undisturbed for a great many years. It is presently the property of a private collector who has appointed us to sell it on his behalf.
CONDITION: In extremely good original undisturbed condition. The frame is original and the painting has clearly never been removed from it. The colours are remarkably fresh and there is no staining, discolouration or foxing. There is a small deposit of grime which has fallen down between the bottom of the mount and the glass but this is not at all extensive enough to be unsightly. The back of the frame is dirty but, this being age-accumulated, we couldn't bring ourselves to remove it. The frame shows no damages and the gilding is attractively distressed and entirely sympathetic to the painting.
ARTIST BIOGRAPHY: Alexander Mark Rossi (British 1840-1916) was born and spent his early years on Corfu, the son of one of the three Italian judges presiding over the Ionian Islands during British rule.
On a visit to Preston in 1866 Rossi met Jane Gillow, who he was later to marry, and thereafter remained in the United Kingdom, initially taking employment at the local art school. Between 1871 and 1873 he exhibited 6 paintings at the Royal Academy in London, and moved there shortly afterwards, taking up residence in Shepherd's Bush.
In total, Rossi exhibited 66 paintings at the Royal Academy between 1871 and 1903 and 47 at the Royal Society of British Artists between 1870 and 1893. He was most successful as a genre painter of charming domestic scenes, often involving children and young adults, and regularly used members of his family as models.
Following the death of his first wife, he married Silvia Tassart in 1902, and died in Golders Green, London on 9 January 1916.