Portrait of a Reclining Woman
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Portrait of a Reclining Woman

Stephen Ongpin Fine Art

This large sheet belongs with a small group of drawings (and one etching) by Gwen John executed around 1910, each depicting the same model wearing the same clothes, and therefore likely to have been done in one sitting. One of these drawings is today in the collection of the Swindon Museum and Art Gallery and others are in private collections. The John scholar Cecily Langdale has noted of these pencil and wash studies that, ‘consistently assured in draughtsmanship and economical in means, they rank among her most beautiful drawings.’

It has been suggested that the model for this distinctive group of drawings may be Maude Boughton-Leigh (1881-1945), known familiarly as Grilda, who was an artist who had studied at the Slade5. John first met Boughton-Leigh in Paris, when she employed her as a model, and the two soon became close friends. Grilda’s sister Ellen Theodosia, known as Chloë, was also a friend, and likewise the subject of several paintings and drawings by John. The Boughton-Leigh sisters maintained a correspondence with John until her death, and they also sent the artist gifts of clothing and tea from England, while in the summer of 1930, John travelled to Belgium to meet the sisters.

Provenance: William Michael Berry, Baron Hartwell MBE, London
His estate sale, London, Christie’s, 21 November 2002, lot 123
Davis & Langdale, New York
Acquired from them in 2004 by a private collection, USA.

Exhibition: New York, Davis & Langdale Company, Inc., Gwen John: Paintings, Watercolours, Drawings, 2004, unnumbered; Chichester, Pallant House Gallery, Gwen John: Art and Life in London and Paris, 2023.

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Stephen Ongpin Fine Art

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