James Collinson

The Empty Purse (replica of ‘For Sale’)

?c.1857

On display at Tate Britain

Artist
James Collinson 1825–1881
Medium
Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions
Support: 610 x 492 mm
frame: 766 x 655 x 70 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Presented anonymously 1917
Reference
N03201

Display caption

The title of this picture and the showiness of the woman looking brazenly at the viewer suggest that she works as a prostitute. The bright colours and brilliant finish reveal Collinson’s Pre-Raphaelite past. He was one of the original members of the Brotherhood but he could not reconcile their ideas with his Catholic faith and he resigned. After a brief period training to become a priest he resumed his artistic career in 1854. His subsequent paintings like this one show anecdotal subjects and moralizing scenes from everyday life – the sort of paintings against which the Pre-Raphaelites rebelled.

Gallery label, July 2007

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