The magic mirror

Edward Henry Corbould1853

Art Gallery of New South Wales

Art Gallery of New South Wales

The subject of this painting is from Sir Walter Scott’s poem 'The lay of the last minstrel' (1805). The lovesick Earl of Surrey – courtier, soldier and poet at the court of Henry VIII – is awestruck before an apparition of ‘the fair Geraldine’, to whose lifelong service he had devoted his pen. He kneels in a magic circle surrounded by an array of cabbalistic implements. The vision of Surrey’s unattainable maiden (seen reclining on a couch reading her lover’s verses) is conjured in a magic mirror by the agency of the sorcerer, Cornelius Agrippa.

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  • Title: The magic mirror
  • Creator: Edward Henry Corbould
  • Date Created: 1853
  • Physical Dimensions: 96.0 x 123.0 cm sight; 118.0 x 151.0 x 5.5 cm frame
  • Provenance: 1st Earl of Ellesmere, KG, circa 1853-circa 1855, London/England, thence by descent to Lady Rochdale (1871–1966), born Lady Beatrice Mary Egerton, 3rd daughter of Francis Egerton, 3rd Earl of Ellesmere (1847–1814), Limpsfield, Surrey, until Oct 1948; 23 Mar 1981, London/England, Sold at Sotheby's Belgravia, London, 23 Mar 1981, lot 15 (GBP3,600); Private Collection, 23 Mar 1981-06 Nov 1996, England, Offered at Christie's, London, 25 Nov 1988, lot 122, bought in. Sold at Sotheby's, London, 6 Nov 1996, lot 297. Purchased at this sale for GBP8,625 by The Maas Gallery, London; The Maas Gallery, London, 06 Nov 1996, London/England, Offered at Christie's, London, 28 Nov 2000, lot 69, bought in. Purchased by the AGNSW from them, June 2016
  • Type: Watercolour
  • Rights: Parramore Purchase Fund 2016
  • External Link: https://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/collection/works/302.2016/
  • Medium: watercolour and bodycolour with gum
  • Signature & Date: Signed and dated l.l., black "EDWARD. H.Y. CORBOULD. / AD 1853.
  • Object Other Titles: The Earl of Surrey ‘beholding the Fayre Geraldine in the magic mirror’
  • Artist Country: England