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Conder was trained in Australia and Paris, before returning to his native London. He liked to paint the South Coast, sometimes making views of a real place, and at other times, as in this painting, inventing an imaginary reminiscence of a place. The background and atmosphere look like Swanage in Dorset, where Conder often stayed. The figures and the flowering cherry trees in the foreground are a fantasy, and an evocation of 'Spring'. In sprawling half naked, brandishing a mirror and wearing imaginary cloaks, these girls recall the eighteenth-century fantasies of Watteau. They also correspond to the melancholy mood of the novels of Marcel Proust, one of which is centred on a 'little band' of young girls on holiday by the sea.

September 2004