Tag Archives: walter sickert

Ten Restful Ladies (1900-1904)

Ambrose McEvoy, 'The Letter', c.1904

Ambrose McEvoy, ‘The Letter’, c.1904

‘For the past few years the New English Art Club has been dominated by the personalities of a few members who have made the domestic picture the dominant note of the club’s exhibitions. I do not mean the millinery-baby domestic picture of the Royal Academy, rather the home picture of the Dutch School. The explanation is simple enough. Mr. Orpen, Mr. Rothenstein, Mr. Russell, Mr. Muirhead have chosen to paint the rooms in which they live, and the choice and simple possessions that an artist gathers about him. This example of dogged hard work has been infectious’ (C L H, The Academy and Literature, Nov 15th, 1902)

In light of this review, and this short article, here is a selection of ten early Edwardian representations of the domestic interior (or, as Max Beerbohm once put it, ‘restful ladies in dim or sunny rooms’). All artists featured were regular exhibitors at the New England Art Club at the turn of the century.

Please feel free to put forward your own suggestions/favourites in the comments!

1. William Rothenstein, The Browning Readers, 1900

2. William Orpen, The Mirror, 1900

3. Henry Tonks, Rosamund and the Purple Jar, 1900

4. Philip Wilson Steer, Hydrangeas, 1901

5. Mary MacEvoy, Interior: Girl Reading, 1902

6. Francis Dodd, Afternoon in the Parlour, 1902

7. Ambrose McEvoy, The Letter, 1904

8. David Muirhead, Night Shadows, c.1900

9. Walter Sickert, La Nera, 1903

10. Harold Gilman, Grace Canedy, c.1904


Crinoline, Chenille Nets, and Pork-Pie Hats

Irene Vanburgh in 'Trelawny of the "Wells"', costume notes.

Irene Vanburgh in ‘Trelawny of the “Wells”‘, costume notes.

‘At last I have seen Pinero’s ‘Trelawny of the “Wells”’ and am not converted to crinoline, chenille nets, and pork-pie hats. How beauties in ‘the early sixties’ contrived to appear beautiful in such deforming costumes one is at a loss to imagine… The plot is slight, but interesting.’ (E E B. Harper’s Bazaar, April 30th 1898)

Arthur Wing Pinero’s almost-Edwardian play ‘Trelawny of the “Wells”’ is being revived by the film director Joe Wright at the Donmar Warehouse in London this month. First performed in 1898, it not only spawned an interest in 1860s’ fashions, but two paintings starring actresses Hilda Spong and Irene Vanburgh by leading artists Walter Sickert and William Rothenstein.

‘When Pinero’s Trelawny of the Wells was put on at the Court Theatre, I went with Sickert to see this enchanting piece. Here was a play which seemed written for our delight. What fun it all was; and how enchanting the costumes! And such a chance it provided that Sickert asked Miss Hilda Spong – a magnificent creature who acted a part – to sit for him; while I approached Irene Vanbrugh. Miss Vanbrugh took infinite trouble, and endured many sittings. Sickert had Miss Spong photographed, and from a small print and with few sittings he achieved a life-size portrait. Miss Vanbrugh’s portrait I sent to the first exhibition of the International Society.’ (William Rothenstein, Men and Memories, Vol I, p.335)

Sickert’s portrait, appropriately enough, was titled ‘The Pork Pie Hat: Hilda Spong in the Trelawny of the “Wells”’. See Wendy Baron, Sickert, Paintings and Drawings (New Haven 2006), p.215 for more information. See more on Hilda Spong here.