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Mrs Douglas, the sitter, was a friend and patron of the artist for a brief period during the war before her death in 1942. The strangeness of this portrait is unexplained but it presents the sitter as if a queen, and yet curiously haunted. The setting is an imaginary portrayal of the sitter's mind as Hurry understood it. In the background a king seems to be crowning a naked woman, with a female devil flying overhead. The sitter's scarlet dress leads up a sinuous diagonal to her pallid face and red lips. This exaggerated colour intensifies this image of human fragility.

August 2004