A UNIQUE portrait featuring the children of a Victorian lawyer by an artist who could not paint faces is expected to fetch hundreds of pounds at auction later this month.
The painting of the Melville children, dated 1840, depicts the four children of James Moncrieff Melville of Corstorphine – writer to the Signet and director of the Royal Bank of Scotland – playing outdoors.
It is inscribed on the reverse “by Mrs Young who couldn’t paint faces”. Its rarity is expected to attract significant interest when it goes under the hammer at Bonhams’ Gentleman’s Library Sale in London, on January 29.
Sam Travers, specialist in Bonhams’ 19th Century Department, said: “The Melville children lived at Hanley House in Edinburgh, but what is most unusual is that the artist wasn’t comfortable painting faces, so the resultant image is definitely quite unique.”