Previously Unrecorded Work Highlights Bonhams European Paintings Sale in November

Bonhams is honored to offer, as a highlight of its first New York City and San Francisco simulcast sale of European Paintings on Wednesday, November 7, 2007, an unrecorded work by the Victorian painter John William Godward, as well as select paintings from private collections and estates from across the US.

egoddard-rez.jpgHighlighting the sale is an oil on canvas deemed a major discovery. The classical painting, signed âJ.W. Godward” in the lower right, has been dated to 1896-98, and stands at 50 x 35 inches. Vern Swanson, the artists biographer, describes the painting as an outstanding example of the artists virtuosity combining sensuality and beauty within an academic framework and will include it in his revised Godward catalogue raisonn.

The painting, titled Ione, has been in notable private collections. Artist John Edmund Califano, a contemporary of Godward, reputedly acquired the piece directly from the artist. Califanos son Eugene, also a painter, gifted the work nearly 40 years ago to a close Newport Beach, CA friend who has offered it for sale. The painting has never been exhibited or reproduced, and the Bonhams auction will mark what may be the first public exhibition of this imposing and significant work. Ione, a portrait of a young woman holding a gilded mirror and studying her reflection as she adjusts a headdress made of violets, is estimated at $600,000 to $800,000.

Ione is the first of Godwards paintings to feature a female model with a violet headpiece, predating Ionian Dancing Girl (1902), as well as With Violets Wreathed and Robe of Saffron Hue (1902). A similar work, Violets, Sweet Violets (1906), features a female figure holding a bouquet of violets, and was sold by Bonhams in London on 28 June 2005 for £364,000.

Ione was likely titled for the Greek word for violet, “ion” or “ione.” Violets were highly symbolic in both Greek and Roman culture, representing love and fertility, and Godward was intrigued by this classic reference.

According to European Paintings Dept. Director Mark Fisher, “Ione is very characteristic of the artists classical style, and its concrete references place it within a specific period of the artiss career. Shielded from reproduction and exhibition, the recent discovery of such an important work makes the piece all the more intriguing.

Previews will be held on October 26-28 in San Francisco and November 3-6 in New York City. The sale will be held in New York and simulcast to San Francisco. The illustrated sale catalogue is online for review and purchase at