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Uncle Toby and Widow Wadman.

Oil on canvas 14in x 9.75in in contemporary decorated gilt frame. Exhibited Royal Academy 1831 (238). Coll: John Gibbons 1848; Sir Charles Tennant; Hon. Colin Tennant; Sotheby Belgravia 1973 (55); bought from the buyer by KM Dec 1973. Inscribed on the stretcher: 'This was a sketch only but C R Leslie finished it for me in May 1848. John Gibbons'; frame bears restoration-stamp of Aitken Dott & Son, Edinburgh, 11 May 1972 This painting shows two of the characters in Sterne's Tristram Shandy, Uncle Toby and the Widow Wadman. Inscribed on the stretcher is the note: This was a sketch only but C R Leslie finished it for me in May 1848. It is believed that the model for Uncle Toby was the actor Jack Bannister (1760-1836) a great friend of Leslie's. This was Leslie's most famous composition which he painted several times. For the Victorians the image became an instantly recognisable symbol of flirtatiousness. The situation represented is that of Widow Wadman inviting Uncle Toby to help her remove an object from her eye. Uncle Toby is mesmerised by the proximity of the Widow's beauty which causes the old soldier to fall head-over-heels in love with her. The image was used as a design for Pratt Potlids in advertising. There are larger versions of this painting in both the V&A and the Tate but evidence on the stretcher suggests that this painting was made from the original drawing.
Accession number
9.75 inch

14 inch