The Maas Gallery, 1968 - Private collection
"Glowing like a page in an illuminated missal, J W Waterhouse’s ethereal Saint Cecilia (1895) is not only one of his key masterworks, but also an enduring object of desire for a long line of passionate collectors. Even before it left the artist’s studio, it was purchased by the ‘Silver King’ George McCulloch (1848–1907), a Glaswegian who made a fortune in Australian mines and retired to London in 1892. By his death, he had spent at least £250,000 (a staggering sum then) on more than 300 contemporary British and continental artworks displayed from 1896 in the luxurious new Kensington house he shared with his wife, Mary, a miner’s daughter. After a controversial showing at the Royal Academy in 1909, their collection was dispersed at Christie’s in 1913. The sale there of Saint Cecilia for the huge sum of £2,300 to the civil engineer Brodie Henderson (1869–1936), whose wealthy family were Waterhouse’s chief patrons, astonished the trade and broke Waterhouse’s auction record. Eighty-seven years later, on 14 June 2000, Saint Cecilia worked her magic again at Christie’s: the composer Andrew, Lord Lloyd-Webber, paid £6,603,750, making this the most expensive Waterhouse picture sold publicly to this day. It is ironic that Andrew Lloyd Webber, who owns such an important collection of Victorian art, bought Saint Cecilia in the same room where Esther Waterhouse had dispersed the contents of her late husband’s studio at rock-bottom prices in 1926, when Victorian art had fallen from favour completely. Waterhouse’s star rose again later and shows no sign of fading anytime soon. The Maas Gallery has been fortunate to handle Saint Cecilia three times, most recently just before it headed to Christie’s in 2000."
- Peter Trippi, Editor-in-Chief, Fine Art Connoisseur