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Gwen John said that she had tried to make the head of this woman look like a painting of the Virgin Mary by Albrecht Dürer, suggesting a link with traditional images of the Annunciation. However, she later decided to improve the picture and made a second version, using her own portrait instead of the idealised head shown here; this version can be seen in room 2 of the current exhibition in the Linbury galleries.

The interior is Gwen John’s own room in Paris. The framed drawings of cats on the wall behind the figure are also by Gwen John.

July 2008