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Greiffenhagen was a stalwart of the official portrait, showing often at the Royal Academy. For twenty years he was in charge of the life class at Glasgow School of Art. Occasionally he painted religious subjects, or groups of life studies put together as a composition with some deeper but unexplained meaning. The three contrasted poses of 'Dawn' are placed artificially in a landscape, but look like a demonstration of life painting.
The Chantrey Trustees, who bought traditional paintings from the Royal Academy for the Tate Gallery collection, chose both this and another group of nudes in preference to his portraits.

August 2004